The Galapagos: Tropical Paradise, with animals

Hello, again.  Would have written sooner, but while the folks with iPhones can use the wifi, neither my netbook nor my iPad have been useable on these many Galapagos Islands I’ve visited.

I’m on an “Interepid Tour” of the “active” variety, and let me tell you, I could get addicted to tours.  Our guide Pepo is like, well, perfect.  ImageHe knows about everything, is calm, well organized, and grew up on San Cristobal, our first island.  His English is perfect, and, well, you can see he’s pleasant to the eye.  On San Cristobal he took us to see his family’s tree house, which his father built.  This photo is of someone climbing the tree house tree.  They grow some big trees here.  Image

The big surprise for me is that a visit to the Galapagos is a tropical vacation with lots of gorgeous blue warm water for playing in.  I’ve done a lot of snorkeling, some kayaking, some swimming.  Choices I didn’t make include surfing and boogey boarding.ImageFor example, this was our second snorkeling site on day 2 in the Galapagos.  We snorkeled through the opening, and I SAW A SHARK!  In the morning’s snorkel, we actually PLAYED with sea lions, or rather they played with us.  ImageHere’s Harry, a friendly Galapagos Marine Iguana, saying hello from Floreana Island, our second stop.  Iguanas are way cool, and although they often look dead, I like to think they’re social and affectionate.ImageThey also inspire imitation.  Here I am doing “upward facing Iguana”.ImageBesides all the iguana viewing, on our first day we were each provided an actual well-working mountain bike AND HELMET.  See what I mean about tours?  All I did was hang out and admire the Pacific as the crew loaded up the bikes.ImageOf course, the views were fantastic.  Here’s mi amiga, my Ecuador travel companion, listening to some amazing geological or historical information, shortly before we headed down.Image

I don’t want to be unfair and leave out those amazing Galapagos tortoises.  I did see sea turtles while snorkeling.  Contrary my former beliefs, it’s uncommon to see the giant tortoises running (I mean walking) wild – at least where I was.  They’re highly protected, endangered, and totally amazing.ImageHere’s one of my new pals saying hello.  They’re still having sex at 100, too.  Here’s an R-rated example:Image

The sea lions are totally adorable at all times, and they like to pose.  With their being so protected here, you can get up close and personal.Image

We saw blue footed boobies (it’s a bird with blue feet) and frigates and pelicans.Image

My tour ends tomorrow, with a flight back to Quito.  Then my friend and I spend two more weeks touring Ecuador.  What a life!

P.S. In case you’re wondering, the other 17 people on my tour are all fantastic and phenomenal.  Most are from Canada, one from Australia, and one other than me and my friend from the USA.  Laughter seems to be the verbal norm.

One parting photo, the beach where I hung out this morning on Santa Cruz Island:Image


2 thoughts on “The Galapagos: Tropical Paradise, with animals

    • Logistics of Travel to the Galapagos

      1. You have to see them on a tour. But you can book your tour while in the States, in Quito (capital of Ecuador) or once you get there, which has to be by plane. There are two airports on 2 different islands. I arrived on San Cristobal Island.
      a. It’s possible you could also book from other places in Ecuador, I just haven’t witnessed that.

      2. If looking to save the most amount of money: get yourself to San Cristobal. Flights cost the same to there whether you fly from Quito or Guayaquil, so pick by your own convenience.
      a. Book a nice cheap lodging on San Cristobal – I find TripAdvisor has reliable descriptions – and visit travel agencies/tour agencies there and compare prices and what you get.

      One method of Galapagos touring is staying on a boat.
      This is more expensive. People I know who’ve done this loved it. I stayed in hotels on the islands and loved that, too. FYI – when I was exploring options, I communicated with a high end boat touring company a friend had recommended. When I eventually told them I couldn’t do their trip because it was too expensive for me, I was asked how much I wanted to pay. Important Lesson: Negotiation is often an option.

      My friend and I went on an Intrepid Travel tour. They have different styles of tours, ours was labeled “adventure.” We chose it because it was a 2 for 1 sale. IT WAS FABULOUS. What made it so good? The guide. Established companies like Intrepid and OAT (Overseas Adventure Travel) have uniformly great guides. In part because working for a company like that is every guide’s dream.

      I don’t know how you’d assess a guide’s caliber if, once you’re on the island, you randomly choose an unknown company with a good itinerary. I would imagine using common sense, like asking around, would work.

      Choosing an itinerary: you can easily get those of established companies on-line and compare. Quality of hotels in which they put you up is a variable you could cross-check on-line.

      You can see it’s a trade-off, time vs. money. I happen to enjoy the process of doing a lot of the research, but after a while I’m about ready to scream. But that’s the beauty of being retired, you have more time, and time to repair mistakes, too (I made a big one on my tour choice in Namibia).

      Very best of luck to you. The Galapagos are well worth the effort.

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