Welcome back! The Galapagos Islands were everything we hoped for and more! Cannot thank our crew and guide enough on the Anahi Catamaran for the outstanding crew, captain, tours, food and accommodations. Also, Rainforest Cruises for helping us select this boat and upgrading our cabin.
I plan to give you an overview of the islands visited and then group the pictures by type with some commentary. Until you visit it is impossible to realize how close you get to the the wildlife and how unaffected they are by your presence. We saw Blue Footed Boobies (birds) on most islands and stood within a foot of them while they did mating dances, tended their young and even slept. Other birds, iguanas, turtles were similarly indifferent to our standing nearby. So I hope to give you information about each island, planning your trip, options for visiting the Galapagos Islands and pictures to give you the scope of our visit. Here we go…
On April 22, 2016 we left Guayaquil, Ecuador airport for Baltra, Ecuador which is approximately 600 miles out in the Pacific Ocean.
The airport is a converted military base and the only facility on this island. To reach the inhabited islands you must take a bus from the airport to the ferry or meet your boat at a private dock.
Until we started planning this trip, we thought that all the Galapagos Islands were uninhabited except for Park facilities and the like. Soon we realized that many of the islands have been inhabited since shortly after Darwin’s visit and are quite large towns. The main source of income is working for the Ecuador Parks serving visitors to the islands and the service industries maintaining the ships, towns and the people that visit and live in the islands.
Arriving at Baltra is beautiful. As you fly in you get a view of the islands. All of the people for our cruise arrived on flights near the same time. So we claimed our bags, paid our park entrance fee ($100, cash only) and met our tour guide, Andres Moreno, who escorted us to the bus and to the dock.
Overall, the towns appeared quite prosperous and the standard of living appeared better than Guayaquil. We choose to visit the islands by live aboard boat so that we didn’t have to spend 1 to 2 hours reaching the park protected islands by boat each day. However, you can also do a mix of staying on one island and visiting the nearby islands and then move to another island and take day trips out. Some of the guests that joined us on our cruise had both stayed on island doing day trips and also took the 7 night trip or shorter trips. We found that live aboard boats offer 3, 5, 8 or 15 day trips. If you do a 7 night/8 day or less trip, you will see either the Eastern Islands or the Western Islands but not both. We choose the B2 (East) because this itinerary offered the most time snorkeling along with visiting the islands.
Realizing that this was a ‘bucket list’ trip for us, I must say it is not inexpensive but it is so worth it. Blogs exist that tell you how to see the islands on a tight budget. We may consider that if we can go back, but we enjoyed this trip so much I think we would just take the B1 (West) itinerary which we missed and maybe stay a few days on Santa Rosa Island and Cristabal Island before and after the boat trip. I found this blog to be very informative.
At the dock we waited for Anahi’s tender boats (pangas) to pick us up and take us out to the boat. While we waited we saw many birds perching very close to us and seals just an arm’s length away. The magic had begun!
We were taken to the boat and assigned our staterooms. Our bags had been put in the rooms and we were told to take a look around and meet back in the dining room for lunch and briefing.
We were briefed on the balance of the days activities and that we would have lunch, then have approximately one-half hour to get our bathing suits on and be back at the panga loading station at the back of the boat for our first adventure. We had a wonderful lunch and met the great group that shared this trip. It was an international group; Sweden, Poland, Canada, Australia, United States, Germany, Ecuador and New Zealand were represented with ages ranging from 7 to 70’s years old and we all got along like old friends. The group was considerate and very punctual with arrival and departure times so we didn’t miss anything.
Our first adventure was to Bachas Beach on Baltra Island where we saw lots of seals, old barges that had deteriorated and left structures in the sand and then we returned to a beautiful beach to swim and snorkel.
Bachas Beach with barge remains in the sand**
We retraced our steps and went back to the beautiful beach where we had landed and enjoyed the beach with swimming and snorkeling. The water visibility was not quite as good as expected during this week due to all the current and water movement after the earthquake. However, we still saw many types of fish, sharks, rays and other marine life.
Back on the boat we explored our home for the next week and enjoyed a wonderful evening.
The 2nd floor – deck, the door to our room, our room, the bar area and entrance to sundeck
After dinner we had the briefing for the next day and everyone retired early as breakfast was at 7 am and a wet landing at Darwin’s at 8 am. That means if you want to savor your coffee or tea, you will be up no later than 6:30 am each day!
Every evening we were briefed on the plan for the next day and the white board would be checked quite often during the day as nobody wanted to be the person holding up the group. Next, Genovesa Island which I think was the most amazing for bird life.
**Pictures from Ryan and Annie’s blog with permission. They were on this tour and are great travel companions!
Also, my apologies for the big gap since the Peru posting and this post. But we were having fun on a trip to Hawaii and then busy taking care of some wonderful family business as we get ready for our first grandchild to be born.