When Tom and I were planning our two weeks in the Galapagos we sat down and discussed what we would like to see. We knew it was out of our price range to do a boat cruise. To help us plan the trip we used the "Lonely Planet" and I went on-line to research what activities we could do for free or at a low cost on the different Islands. I was able to compile quite a bit of information. Once we decided what Islands we would like to spend our time on,Tom researched for accommodations that were not too far from the hub of activity on each of the islands we decided to spend a total of 8 days on Santa Cruz and 7 days on Isla Isabela.
The Galapagos is comprised of 13 major islands but only 5 of the Islands are inhibited. Although the islands may look close to each other, they aren't. For example, to get to Isla Fernandina it is 8 hours away by boat and that island is not inhibited.That is why people do the boat cruises.
When you fly to the Galapagos, you have to sign a declaration stating that you agree to have your luggage inspected when leaving the islands. This is done for a couple of reasons; you don't take any shells, coral, wildlife etc out of the island and you don't bring in products that will threaten the ecosystem i.e. fruit. Now you might think who would try to take wildlife/marine life out. Well, when we were leaving Isla Isabella we were told about someone trying to sneak out a baby marine iguana!
The flight was booked quite a while ago through Tame airlines and the flight to the Galapagos was 2 hours long. The price of our return flight was $600.00 each Cdn. Our flight to the Galapagos was delayed by 2 hours which gave me lots of time to browse the shops. The end result being that Edgar gained a new friend. There are only 2 major airports in the Galapagos. One on Isla Baltra, which is a short boat ride to Santa Cruz and the second airport is on Isla San Cristobel.
As we were landing at the nearby Isla Baltra airport the landscape looked like a desert barren with cacti strewn about. As we were landing on the runway, our welcoming party consisted of a fair-sized iguana. Now where else in the world would you see something like that? It was definitely a first for me!
When we landed at Baltra we had to pay a $100 U.S p/p park fee. We also had our passports stamped Parks Nationale Galapagos Island. Our luggage was checked at security. Next, we had to take a bus to the boat launch area. It was a short ride. From there we did a short boat ride to the mainland - Santa Cruz. As we sat in the boat waiting for other passengers we saw Sally lightfoot crabs, and we heard fishes jumping out of the water. Others saw the fish, I wasn't quick enough to see them. I was so excited! Santa Cruz's main town is Puerto Ayora which has a population of 12,000.
We then had the choice of paying $2.00 per person for a bus ride to Puerto Ayora, the main town on Santa Cruz. The ride was between 1.5 to 2 hours long. We opted for the taxi at a cost of $17.00 The ride was an hour long.
We had booked 7 nights at Hostel al Mar. The room was $50.00 U.S a night. We had a fan in the room, but the room was still hot. We had a TV which we never watched but had free coffee and water (we drank tons of water). When we arrived our host sat down with us and gave us a map and explained some of the sights and the location of some restaurants. We were really tired, so I don't think we really absorbed all the information he was giving us. After we unpacked, we walk down the main strip and grabbed a couple of beers. I suggested to Tom that before we bought anymore beer we should find out the cost. GULP....a beer was $6.00. That was triple what we were paying in Quito. Needless to say, we only ordered 2 beers.
Next on our agenda was to go check out the pier, which was the main hub of activity as people were always coming and going between islands. We had heard that at night when the pier was lit, if you were patient, you could see sharks, Rays and turtles. We decided to do that after we ate. from the pier we walked down another street and by chance came across the fish market. Fishermen brought their catch inland to an area where they had tables and taps available where the fish were filleted. Of course this attracted all kinds of birds such as herons, pelicans and marine life, seals and sea lions. There were also marine iguanas who were just lazing about and getting warm by lying on the concrete or the black lava rocks which were seen everywhere you went.
We wondering where to go to eat and as luck would have it, the street around the corner from us had the road filled with table and chairs and at least 16 restaurants selling food (mostly seafood). Each serving was $10.00 and with a beer ($2 cheaper than the restaurant we had been to earlier during the day). We ate here several times and the average cost was between $26.00 - $28.00. Soft drinks were not cheap.One reason why things were more expensive was because products had to be shipped/flown from the mainland.