There are many places in the world that I visited that were fantastic and great experiences, but only a few that I decided I had wanted to when I was in my teens. Galapagos was one of them (others were a trek to Mr. Everest, Bali in the old days, a safari in Africa, Tibet, Paris, and a Greek island, although the list would have been a lot longer had I been more knowledgeable of the world). When we traveled for 10 months through Latin America long ago, we simply did not have the funds for a side trip to Galapagos, but we never gave up our desire to visit it.
Our daughter had been in exchange program with Ecuador, and the son of the family she stayed with was also in our home for a couple of months: a good excuse for another trip to Ecuador to visit the family, revisit some of our favorite spots in the country and finally travel to Galapagos.
We flew from Quito to Baltra Island where our boat and guide were waiting for us. After short walk on the beach, we sailed to Santa Fe Island, home to numerous bird species, sea lions, and a rare species of hybrid iguanas.
Sally Lightfoot crabs
Lots to see: crabs flamingos, and strange cactus
Beach time with sea lions South Plaza, sea lion, iguanas. We also had a chance to do some snorkeling and swim with the sea lions, which are quite playful. Our guide pointed out a small shark below us at one point, to which he swam down. We were all a bit afraid, which he found quite funny.
Waved albatross: these birds usually have trouble taking off, which is due to the size of their wings.
Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and had a great sense of humor!
Transport to land
Mechtild makes a friend
The iguanas really stank terribly!
We often sailed at night and arrived at our next stop in the morning.
The Captain in his best attire
The food was always great
Floreana: Post Office Island
Years ago, whalers were often away from home for a long time and had no possibility to communicate with their loved ones. So they devised a system whereby they left letters on Floreana, and anyone passing by on another ship who found a letter addressed to someone near to where he lived took the letter and delivered it. Those visiting the island today are supposed to do the same, although we did not find any letter addressed to someone living near our home.
Our boat, the Aida Maria: quite comfortable!
Devil’s Crown, so named because it looks like a crown that only a devil would wear: so uncomfortable!
Santa Cruz Puerto Ayora
Charles Darwin Research Station
Some of the trip members: everyone was extremely friendly, and we developed closed bonds with all during the short time. Especially interesting was Rob Highly (seen on the right). He was a runner who had run 18 kilometers to and from work in Australia years before, since he had no other transport. He then started a charitable organization for disadvantaged kids in Australia, which involved running to build up self-confidence. And he organized groups of disabled people in Africa and used running to build up their self-esteem, even resulting in one of them winning a gold medal in the Paralympics. He was rather poor himself, but his friend Tony, who was also on the trip, paid for him as thanks for all he was doing.
Several of those on the trip had only booked the first half, which they and we sorely regretted. Although only together for such a short time, we felt like we were losing friends of many years.
Trip to the center of the island: Cloud forest
There was a guitar on board, but it was missing one string. Our clever guide took a fishing line and used that as a substitute, which turned out to work quite well!
Santiago Island James Bay
Impressive lava formations
Showing off: frigate bird
The chef at work
Cake and party on last evening
The crew: thanks for the great trip!