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A Galapagos Cruise – A Dream of a Lifetime
Boobies and seals, iguanas and manta rays, oh my! Our family trip to the Galapagos ranks up there as one of the best trips I’ve ever taken.
We flew into Guayaquil, Ecuador only to spend one night then head onto Baltra airport. Upon arrival, the admissions point was well set up. We snaked our way along a wooden line in order to pay our $100 per person park entry fee as well as go through customs. There we were met by our Ecuadorian guide, who immediately took us to our boat.
We had read the many pros and cons of big boats versus small boats, and we opted to go small, booking the Golondrina with 10 other passengers. For us, it was the right choice. The boat was not full of amenities; it had an eating area, a deck on top, and a small deck on the back that we entered and exited the boat from. It was also not full of people, and we never had to wait to be transported to the various landings or to get into the water to swim and snorkel. It was quiet and restful, and we seemed to maximize our time both on land and in the water. We did see some of the bigger boats, and when they would drop anchor, our captain would whisk us away to someplace else that didn’t have hordes of people.
We had four fun-filled days that included animal and bird viewing, swimming, snorkeling, hiking, and just taking it easy. The schedule is extremely comfortable, and the crew fed you either a meal or snack each time you climbed onto the boat. So our day went like this: wake up, breakfast, tour, snack, swimming, lunch, tour, snack, swimming or relaxing, an evening cocktail, dinner, relaxing and bed. It was the best mixture of lazing around in the sun with a drink and a snack, a good swim with the sea lions or amazing fish, and eating great food and getting to know everyone on the boat really well from the crew to the eight other passengers.
Everyone goes to the Galapagos to see the tortoises and blue-footed boobies, but there are so many more birds and animals to see. We encountered all kinds of birds from boobies, finches, frigate birds, and flamingoes, as well as the myriad of animals like the land and marine iguanas, geckos, sea lions and seals. To top it off we couldn’t get enough of the sea life such as sharks and manta rays, and fish…so many fish! It was a smorgasbord of wildlife. The rules are strict within the park, and therefore the animals don’t really even acknowledge you, because they have never been threatened. They just go on with their business as you snap away with your camera or hike on by. It has to be one of the most relaxing, yet fascinating places I have been.
Practical Information for Visiting the Galapagos:
Getting there is a bit tough and really expensive. There are two gateway cities to the Galapagos, Guayaquil and Quito. Guayaquil was not much to write home about so it was cheaper, but if I had it to do over again I would choose Quito and stay for a couple of days.
The entry fee of $100 per person is also pretty steep, but I found the guides to be attentive and knowledgeable, and the park and boats are well regulated so it looks like the money is put to good use. Even the admission line was covered from the hot sun.
Baltra didn’t really have much to do or see, but I do know people who have stayed a few days and gotten to see how the people live a little more than we did. We were on the boat and the only folks we talked to were on the boat with us.
Luckily, it is full board on all the boats so you don’t have to worry about eating. We ate very well, often seafood, fresh fruits, and as I mentioned lots of snacks since we were swimming and burning a lot of calories.
As the country name implies, it’s right near the Equator so it’s hot, hot, hot. Even smearing ourselves with sun tan lotion wasn’t enough. We all got burned. So bring a very high SPF and wear a hat as much as you can. It’s a good idea to pack a light cotton long-sleeve to keep the sun off of your shoulders and neck as well.
At night it gets cold on the water, so also bring a pullover or sweatshirt to keep warm.
Most of the ride was quite smooth, but there was one stretch of water that is notoriously rough and every passenger on the boat crawled into their beds to try and keep from getting sick. It did help some, but bringing Dramamine or wearing wrist bands would probably have been welcomed.
Have you been to the Galapagos? What was your favorite part?
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