I visited the Galapagos islands, off the coast of Ecuador in South America, they are called the enchanted islands, and with reason, The Galapagos consists of 14 islands, and the only way to get there is by plane from Quito , Guayaquil or San Cristobal Ecuador, only national airlines TAME, LAN and Aero Gal fly to the Galapagos. At the airport you must buy a $10 dollar permit to be presented once you arrive into Galapagos, you must get this permit before you go to the check in counter. Once In Galapagos you will be asked to present your ID and the permit, as well as pay a fee that helps maintain and sustain the Galapagos.
Plan to be there at least two weeks if you want to island hope, I was there only 5 days and was only in Santa Cruz it was not enough time to get a full picture of everything Galapagos has to offer.
You arrive in Baltra Island, which is desolated and the airport is the only building in the island, plus a few souvenir shack’s, once you come out of the airport, you get on a bus that takes you on a 10 minute ride to the port, where you get on a “ferry” to Santa Cruz Island, there you take your transportation by taxi or bus to Puerto Ayora, which takes about an hour.
Once in Puerto Ayora, we were taken to our hotel , called Hotel Fernandina, this is NOT a luxury hotel, it is a family run hotel that offers clean, neat and comfortable rooms for up to 4 people, it includes breakfast, with a variety of fruit, bread, eggs, coffee, cocoa, there is something for everyone, it has a pool, a jacuzzi and a bar across the street. The rooms do not have a coffee maker nor a television or a radio, so if you need any of these comforts from home, you better pack your computer, I Pad, e-reader, books, or similar and take advantage of the free wi-fi.
Puerto Ayora is a small, secure town where you can safely walk, bike and stroll, you will find a lot of restaurants, art galleries and souvenir shops along the principal street, although it caters mostly to European customers who are the predominant tourist group, so things do tend to be on the expensive side.
Visit the fish market in the middle of town, were every afternoon the fish mongers bring their catch of the day and watch how the circle of life here makes you smile, watch the birds, iguanas and seals wait for the fish sellers to get distracted so they can “steal” a piece of fish, it is a wonderful, playful and funny sight, specially for animal lovers.
Take an aqua taxi (60 cents and it takes 5 minutes to get the the path )and go the “The Grietas” is a nice place to see and its an experience to get there, as you have to walk over a path of lava boulders, wear closed toe, anti slippery shoes, and be careful as you walk, as the path can be difficult at times, also wear comfortable and protective cloths. Once you reach the destination, you will be rewarded with with a crystal clear pool which is great for swimming or snorkeling, some people like to jump of the sides of the gorge into the water which is about 10 meters deep but this can be dangerous, so use caution.
Close to town and walking distance from anywhere in Puerto Ayora is the Charles Darwin Research Station, you will see many iguanas, lizards and flora. In the Charles Darwin Station you will see giant tortoises, featuring Lonesome George (the last survivor of the distinct Pinta subspecies). The Charles Darwin Research Station is also part of the Centro de Crianza Fausto Llerena which is the breeding center for the tortoises. Tortoises are raised here in the care of researchers and then when ready re-introduced into there natural environment.
Where to eat: The Rock Bar-Restaurant
|St. Islas Plaza and Charles Darwin – Puerto Ayora , Santa Cruz island|
Their MISSIÓN is to provide a welcoming and natural entertainment spot within the Galapagos Islands for both national and foreign tourists, offering exclusive and original cuisine accompanied by quality service. And they deliver, the food is good, the ambiance is nice, easy to get to, the menu offers something for everyone.
|Try their ceviche, it ROCKS!|
Feeling beachy? Garrapatero Beach
On the Northern side of the Island of Santa Cruz is El Garrapatero beach. You can get there from Puerto Ayora by taxi; it takes approximately 30 minutes, then a 10 minute walk on a brick road.
El Garrapatero is a bay with multiple sandy beaches. Behind the beach is an area with a fresh water lake where you can come across pink flamingos, herons, grebes, stilts and other shore birds.
You can swim, kayak and camp on this beach, just need a permit to set up your camp site.
There are no vendors on site, so make sure you bring everything you need, because everything is far away.