We returned to Santa Cruz Island to spend two more days on land before our cruise.
Sea Lion Sleeping
During the lunch hour, we toured the Charles Darwin Research Station, which does a lot of work to help preserve the Galapagos ecosystems. There is a large breeding center where we saw the remaining species of tortoises in the Galapagos. I was at awe when we saw Lonesome George, the last known tortoise of his kind. They don’t know his exact age but he is between 60-90 years old, over 40 inches long, and about 194 pounds! We picked a great time to visit the center as we were by ourselves most of the time and there were no tour groups around. They do wonderful work at the center and it is great that the public can visit it for free. Just please don’t touch the animals!
Look At The Size Of This Monster
Don't Let Age Fool You
On our second day, we walked to Tortuga Bay, which is well known for its pristine white sand beach. We stayed for over two hours and our visit left us speechless. It wasn’t only because of the gorgeous views but just being in a natural environment where Blue-footed Boobies and pelicans are flying over us, large marine iguanas are resting on the beach, and having the freedom to roam. If we had packed a lunch, I could have stayed an entire day at this spot.
Marine Iguanas Waking Up
Keep reading next week for details on our 8-day cruise!
When we were initially planning for our world tour, we both wanted to see the Galapagos badly, but when considering how much it costs, it was always a warm subject between us. So when my birthday came around, my knight in shining armor told me we were going to the Galapagos but I didn’t believe it until we took flight.
On Our Flight To The Galapagos
We heard taking a cruise was a must-do, but we also wanted to also experience Galapagos by land, so we planned for 4 days by ourselves followed by an 8 day cruise. As we flew to the Galapagos, we got an extraordinary air view of the Cotopaxi Volcano. We soon landed in Baltra in the open terminal and the weather was perfect, not too hot and not too cold. After a short ride, first by bus and then by ferry to the main island, we then shared a taxi with another couple to Puerto Ayora. A 30-minute ride later, we were all friends and stuck together for the next couple of days.
Amazing Air View
For our first meal, we decided to get off the gringo strip and followed the local traffic to Cevicheria El Pulpo. As we looked around, everyone was having soup so we opted for the same. I am not a big seafood person but this sopa marinera (mixed seafood soup) was excellent. We sat for over an hour talking to this local guy at our table and he ended up buying us beer.
Lunch And Drinks At Cevicheria El Pulpo
Mixed Seafood Soup
For Isabela Island, we got a great deal on a package we just couldn’t refuse. To get there, we took a water taxi for 3.5 hours and it end up being one of the worst boat rides ever. The water was very choppy and our driver was completely insane, driving like he wanted to crash into each wave. There was a pregnant woman onboard and after an hour, she was hovering over the side of the boat. We were all very happy to be finally off the boat and to be on land again.
When the shuttle dropped us off at our hotel, we were extremely confused. It looked more luxurious than the pictures shown to us by the agency. The four of us just kept quiet and made our way to the welcoming snacks. Afterwards, we toured a lagoon and saw pink flamingos chomping away at the shrimp in the water.
The next morning, we got up very early for a 6-hour hike to our first volcano. The morning started off misty, which was very nice, compared to the beating sun we had for the rest of the day. Our first stop was Sierra Negra Volcano (Black Mountain) whose last eruption was back in October 22, 2005. The magma chamber is constantly filled with new magma so more eruptions are expected in the future.
Caldera Of Sierra Negra
After lunch, we were walking over a large lava field crunching our way for two hours. It felt as if we were walking on the moon, but with random large cactus plants in the background. It was very interesting to see the variation of colors from the new and old lava. We took a break at a scenic viewpoint where we could see the other volcanoes on Isabela Island from afar: Ecuador, Wolf, Darwin, and Alcedo. We could also make out the seahorse shape of the island.
Random Cactus Plants
HUGE Lava Tunnel
Lava, Lava, Lava!
After our wonderful hike, we took a small boat to the Islote Tintoreras (Tintorera Islands). On the lava island, there is a natural canal where the white tip reef sharks, called tintoreras, rest on the bottom of the shallow waters. While on land, any movement we made would result in hundreds of black marine iguanas scrambling around. They were well camouflaged against the black rocks that I wonder if any tourist has stepped on one by accident.
White Tip Reef Sharks
Back on the boat, we saw sea lions sunbathing, a group of Galapagos penguins hanging out on the rocks, and then our first Blue-footed Booby! We made our final stop of the day to snorkel. I was hesitant at first because it was freezing cold. I put on my wet suit and plunged into the water. Soon enough, I had one of the most amazing first experiences swimming with GIANT sea turtles. There were three around us and they were just chilling in the water and would slowly swim up for air and come back down with no care that we were nearby. Luckily I had on a life jacket because they would get very close to me and it was no joke how big they were.
Our trip on Isabela Island was truly amazing. We saw so many animals that I wasn’t sure that we needed to go on a cruise anymore.
What We Paid:
– Flight From Quito To Galapagos On Icaro Aero (Partners With LAN)
– Quito Airport Fee
– Entrance Fee To Galapagos
– Water Ferry From Baltra To Santa Cruz Island
– Taxi To Puerto Ayora
– Lunch (Sopa Marinera) At Puerto Ayora
– Tour Package For Isabela Island
Includes Water Taxi, Lodging, Meals, Daily Excursion