Galapagos to Cuenca–Plane, boat, buses, automobiles

Park Calderon

Parque Calderon, Cuenca

We’re in Cuenca now.  On Feburary 1, we made the trip from the Galapagos to Cuenca. We got up early in Puerto Ayora on Isla Santa Cruz in the Galapagos.  Took a taxi to the bus terminal and caught the 7:00am bus to the dock.  Then a short boat trip across the channel to Isla Baltra where the airport is located.  Hopped the bus from the other side to the airport, got checked in for the flight then had some breakfast.  Our flight from Galapagos landed in Guayaquil landed about 2:45pm (there’s a one hour time difference, Galapagos is in the Central time zone, Ecuador mainland is Eastern time.  We got a taxi from the airport to the bus terminal which is very near by but not suitable for walking.  We acquired a “helper” at the curb, who, for a small compensation took us to the bus company with the next bus leaving for Cuenca and he then escorted us to the correct departure point.  He thought I should have given him more but I stood firm on my tip.  The bus left at 4:00pm and we arrived in Cuenca at around 7:30pm, then a short taxi to our hotel. Continue reading

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Galapagos – Itinerary and Landscapes

The vast majority of the 75 or so boats that tour the Galapagos carry 20 passengers or less.  There are some that go up to 100 passengers.  There are generally four classes of service:  luxury, first-class, tourist and economy.  They may use variations of these designations.  Our boat was in the tourist class.  From what I can tell, the additional cost for the higher classes of service gets more luxurious cabins and facilities aboard the boat.  You could easily pay 2 or even 3 times what we paid for this additional luxury.  In my opinion, this would not yield a 2 or 3 times better experience as it relates to exploring the islands.  Our cabin was definitely small but it had a small bathroom and shower and air conditioning.  Anything more would have amounted to pampering for ourselves.

Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, Isla San CristobalMany boats run simultaneous 3, 5 and 8 day tours.  This means that they may return to Puerto Ayora to drop off and pick up passengers during your tour.  The boat we were on is one of the few that runs only an 8 day itinerary.  Therefore, it can reach some of the more distant islands since it doesn’t have to return to Puerto Ayora during the tour. Continue reading

Galapagos–Wildlife and Sea Life

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Beach on Chinese Hat

The beauty of the Galapagos Islands is truly staggering.  Due to the relatively young age of the islands they are very rugged with their volcanic origins very much on display.  Most of the wildlife that has developed on the islands has to be able to make do on very little fresh water.

While on the boat tour, each day’s itinerary was very similar.  Generally, we began with breakfast at 7:00am.  (By the way, the food on the boat was very good.  A varied menu with fresh food, generally including vegetables, rice and/or potatoes in some form.)  Following breakfast, we would board the launch and land on an island for a 1 1/2 to 2 hour walking tour followed by snorkeling.  We would then return to the boat for lunch and at about 2:00pm go for another snorkeling session in a different area of the coastline or another nearby island.  Return to the boat to change into dry clothes for another hike on land, again, to a different part of the island or another nearby island.  After returning to the boat at around 6:00pm, dinner would be served at 7:00pm followed by our briefing for the following day’s itinerary. Continue reading

Galapagos Overview

Well, where to begin?  What an amazing place, what an amazing experience.

Isla Santiago from Bartolome

Isla Santiago from Bartolome

The main airport for the Galapagos is on the small island of Baltra which is on the north side of Isla Santa Cruz.  They are separated by a relatively narrow channel.  After you arrive in the airport, you will be taken by bus to the dock for a crossing to Santa Cruz.  The boat we had booked for our 8 day tour was the Floreana, which is also the name of one of the islands.  This boat was anchored in the channel so rather than cross to Santa Cruz we were taken onto the boat.  The Floreana accommodates 16 passengers in 8 cabins and we had a full boat.  Interestingly, Valerie and I were the only representatives from the US.  There were two couples from Switzerland (not related); a woman, her father and her son from Denmark; a single man from Denmark (friends with the family); a couple and a single guy from the UK (unrelated); a young girl from Germany; a young girl from Austrailia; and a young guy from Brazil.

Ninety-seven percent of the land mass of all of the Galapagos islands are part of the Galapagos National Park.  The people who owned land prior to the formation of the national park were allowed to stay.  The national park provides for the protection of the land and the wildlife.  The guides who work on the tour boats are employed by the national park to introduce visitors to the many natural wonders of the islands and the surrounding waters. Continue reading