Back in 2011, we took the plunge and booked a vacation through Friendly Planet to visit the Galapagos Islands. I’d worked with some amazing people who did research in the Galapagos, and have always been intrigued by this place that seemed so mystical and unique, but it hadn’t occurred to me that it could be a possible vacation destination. However, a year before our adventures some of my relatives took a trip to the Galapagos which opened my eyes to potential travel for us. They did a lot of diving there, and I believe stayed on a boat (it sounded incredible). We weren’t SCUBA certified at the time, but still interested in the Galapagos, so I kept my eyes peeled for opportunities.
When I saw the tour package we purchased (which was on a big sale!), I was beyond excited but didn’t really know what to expect. The exact tour we did doesn’t appear to be available anymore, though there are some similar options. We flew from Miami into Guayaquil, Ecuador, then to Baltra in the Galapagos. After landing, and going through security/customs our luggage was placed on top of a bus, and we were transported to a ferry. We then took about a 5 minute boat ride over to the island of Santa Cruz, where our adventures began!
We stayed at the Red Mangrove Santa Cruz Diver’s Lodge, the room was very nice, and the food was great. Right away we saw so much wildlife: Sally lightfoot crabs, sea lions, several birds, and a stingray. Our group ventured out to El Garrapatero beach and spent some time wandering around. We also went to Los Gemelos (the twins) which were two collapsed lava chambers. Our guide on Santa Cruz was phenomenal.
My favorite part of our visit to Santa Cruz was a stop at the Galapagos tortoise reserve. The tortoises were so amazing to observe!
We also visited the remnants of a lava tunnel, before boarding our boat to go to the island of Floreana.
From Floreana, we boated over to Isabella, and finally back to Santa Cruz for the last part of our trip. One of our last days was spent touring the Charles Darwin Research Station. Lonesome George was still alive during our visit, and it was neat to see him. Diego was also there, he’s the opposite of George as he has fathered MANY tortoises. We stayed at the Red Mangrove Aventura Lodge our last night on the islands, and walked around a little in the area that night to see the fish market, and find some last minute souvenirs.
I will blog separate posts about our adventures in Floreana and Isabella (new posts each Monday!). I believe we were in the Galapagos a total of 6 days. We saw a lot, but definitely could have stayed longer!
Pack lightly! – Especially if island hopping
Santa Cruz is more built up than I was expecting – don’t be surprised