Visiting the Galapagos Islands


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VISITING THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

ITINERARY

  • June 12, 2019: 2 nights in Quito at Patio Andaluz hotel
    • Private three hour tour of Quito
  • June 14, 2019: 7 nights aboard M/C Seaman Journey taking Itinerary C
    • Santa Cruz Island
    • Fernandina Island
    • Isabela Island
    • Santiago Island
    • Rabida Island
    • Chinese Hat Island
    • Bartolome Island
    • Santa Cruz Island

DETAILS

Visiting the Galapagos Islands has been on the top of my bucket list since 1984 when I wrote an essay in middle school about the Galapagos marine iguana. Needless to say I was a little excited when this trip was becoming a reality!

We chose to visit the islands via a catamaran cruise instead of staying at a resort. The Galapagos Islands have an extremely sensitive environment and staying on a boat discourages more resorts from being constructed and also allows you to visit more islands in a shorter amount of time. Most nights the ship was driving to another island while we were sleeping.

Quito

On June 12, 2019 at 10 am we left from Reagan National Airport on American Airlines. We landed in Quito, Ecuador at 10 pm.

Visiting the Galapagos Islands but first a visit to the town of Quito

On Thursday we woke up and had the morning to explore the city on our own. In the afternoon we went on a guided tour of the city. The tour consisted of a historic talk on the Incan culture and the Spanish conquest of the Incans. As a result of the Spanish conquest, much of the Incan buildings were destroyed when Catholicism took over the town. Consequently, there are many Catholic churches in Quito.

Visiting the Galapagos Islands: Day 1

On Friday, June 14th, we woke up at 3:45 am to catch our flight with a lay over in Guaquil then off to Baltra Airport on the Galapagos Islands. We spent a couple hours in town before we started our Galapagos adventure.

Our adventure visiting the Galapagos Islands began in the highlands of Santa Cruz island where we saw Galapagos Giant Tortoises. Galapagos means tortoise in Spanish.

The catamaran had 13 passengers plus a crew on board. The views from the top deck were amazing.

Day 2

On Saturday, June 15th we set out via Zodiaks for our morning excursion to Isabella Island. We stopped to see blue footed boobies diving into the water after fish.  The lava on this island is estimated at around 1,000 years old. There was still very little vegetation established on this island even after such a long time.

Visiting the Galapagos Islands - Isabella Island

In the afternoon we set out on the zodiaks around Fernandina Island near Punta Mangle. We saw our first spotting of marine iguanas. Smaller iguanas were perched upon larger ones to keep warm. There were so many of them!

Among the iguanas were blue footed boobies and pelicans. We also observed flightless cormorants. We saw a pair with chicks and saw a male cormorant offering up a bunch of seaweed to the female for her nest. Unbeknownst to him, she will leave the nest to find another mate leaving him to take care of the young.

Day 3

On Sunday, June 16th we set off on the zodiaks for Bahia Urbina on Isabella Island. We had a wet landing so water sandals were a must.

Visiting the Galapagos Islands - Isabella Island

We saw the infamous Darwin finches on Isabella Island. The finches evolved to have different beaks each suited to a different food type. Darwin’s research of these birds shaped the Theory of Evolution.

We also saw land iguanas and lava lizards.

The Galapagos mockingbird was the first bird Darwin found that had different characteristics depending on which island it inhabited. Many people don’t know that this was the first bird that sparked the Theory of Evolution.

Visiting the Galapagos Islands - Galapagos Mockingbird

Our afternoon excursion was at Caleta Tagus on Islabella Island. We walked up a flight of wooden stairs to our trail. At the top of the trail we could see Darwin Lake which is a salt water lake. This was a good spot to get a pic!

Visiting the Galapagos Islands  - Isabella Island

Day 3

On Day 3 we visited Punta Espinoza on Fernandina Island. There were marine iguanas everywhere! They were only a couple feet away and didn’t even move when we walked past them. Lava cacti are one of the first plant species to start colonizing lava fields. New growth on the cacti is orange in color.

Visiting the Galapagos Islands - Fernandina Island

That afternoon we took a panga ride along the cliffs and went inside a cave. We observed fur seals frolicking in the water which was unusual since they are normally nocturnal. We also saw Galapagos penguins up close along with blue footed and nazca boobies.

We crossed the equator around 5:30 pm and went to the bridge to see the GPS read 0.  

Visiting the Galapagos Islands - sunset on the Ecuator
Our sunset picture at the ecuator

Day 4

On Tuesday, June 18th we went to Playa Espumilla on Santiago Island. We were only able to walk along the beach due to the many sea turtle nests above the high tide limit. The sand was much different on this island as it was not the organic sand from Fernandina but was very fine sand made from volcanic ash.  Sally Lightfoot crabs really stood out against the sand.  I posed with Big John the Bear, a 50 year old bear a British lady who was on our tour brings on all her holidays (the British term for vacation).

Visiting the Galapagos Islands - Santiago Island

After lunch we had a wet landing on Puerto Egas on Santiago Island and as soon as we arrived we saw fur seals. We saw a land iguana which is very rare for this island as rats and dogs had killed most of them but an eradication effort many years ago is restoring the population.

Visiting the Galapagos Islands - iguanas at Santiago Island

Visiting the Galapagos Islands: Day 5

On day 5 we went to Rabida Island. The island has distinct red sand and rocks caused by iron. Along our walk, we saw fur seals, lava lizards, and Galapagos mockingbirds. We walked to a pond on the island to see flamingos and then to the top of a scenic vista.

In the afternoon we went to Sombrero Chino or Chinese Hat Island.

Day 6

On Thursday, June 10th we went to Sullivan Bay at Santiago Island.  We saw one of the more recent eruption reminants. There were many kinds of volcanic features incuding lava tubes and hornitos (or little ovens) which is like a mini volcano. The lava was very sharp and hard like glass.

After lunch we headed out to Bartolome island. We climbed over 273 steps to get to the top of one of the most magnificent views on our trip.

Visiting the Galapagos Islands - Bartolome Island

Day 7

On day 7 we had the option of visiting Santa Cruz Island at 5:45 to make the excursion. The sand on this island was much different than the others as it was almost white and had very fine grains.

Visiting the Galapagos Islands: Underwater Wildlife

We went snorkeling almost everyday between island tours. We saw sea turtles, penguins, lobsters, fur seals, sea lions and white tipped reef sharks to name a few.

Visiting the Galapagos Islands: Recap

We couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to embark on our 7 day journey in the Galapagos Islands. The crew was equally as amazing as was the food. If you are thinking about visiting the Galapagos Islands, you just can’t go wrong with this ship and itinerary.

Visiting the Galapagos Islands - the tour group
The passengers of the ship
Visiting the Galapagos Islands  - the crew
The ship’s crew

We paired this trip with a visit to Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley in Peru. Please visit the Peru page to find out how the second half of the trip went.

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