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Equador and Galapagos islands
Equador and Galapagos islands trip:
I had never thought about travelling to the Galapagos before, I didn’t even know that much about it however last year when my sister dropped out of a trip booked for her and my brother to go to the Galapagos; I just couldn’t turn down the chance to travel.
We started our journey in august 2008 we had a long flight (13hours) but it all ran ok. When we arrived in Ecuador it was a real culture shock; as we stopped at traffic lights there were women and children leaning in the car windows trying to sell us sweets and food. We were staying in Quito which was a bustling city, but very poor with quite high crime rates however our guides made sure we knew how to keep safe in the city and we were well looked after. The town of Quito is squashed in between volcanoes and a valley, which made for an impressive view from our hotel room window; it is also situated at 2500 metres above sea level.
The next day we headed to the Galapagos, everyone was stretching on the plane to see out the windows we were all desperate to get our first view of the islands. As we landed on Baltra we realised that the runway was the length of the island and the airport was a small hut with only two walls and when we had gone through arrivals we had to go around the side of the building to collect our luggage off the floor! From the airport we travelled by bus across the island and then onto the next island: Santa Cruz by boat with our luggage just lying on the roof of the boat! We took this time to take in the scenery; the islands appeared very barren with cacti everywhere, the air was humid with a sea breeze and the only populated place on the islands is Santa Cruz which is like a small village. We found our boat at Tortuga bay; as we waited for our water taxi we got our first glimpse of wildlife: Frigate birds, pelicans, sally light foot crabs and marine iguanas. On board we explored our ship, before our first outing back onto Santa Cruz to the highlands to see the giant tortoises and the lava tunnels. That evening we returned to the boat for dinner.
Our cruise of the islands had begun, we visited: Rabida, Barthlome, North Seymour, south plaza, Santa fe, Espanola and Florena. Every island varied in scenery but every single one was amazing. We saw a lot of animals: each island had sea lions, crabs, land and marine iguanas and lava lizards, however as we visited each island the lizards and iguanas varied in size and colour. The animals aren’t frightened of humans so you can get very close to them. There is a rule on the islands that you mustn’t touch any of the animals or take anything off of the islands and each time we returned from an island to the boat our feet were hosed off by the crew. The group we were travelling with on the boat were all from different countries but due to the size of the boat the group gelled and we all became great friends. The crew on the boat were very friendly, only the guides spoke English but we all tried to communicate.
Every morning we woke and went up on deck to watch the sunrise before breakfast, we knew when our meals were ready because a bell was rung and everyone rushed to our dining area! The food was amazing considering the size of the kitchen. Each day we would travel to an island, and explore and then snorkel. Under the water you could swim with beautiful fish and sea lions but the highlight for me was seeing my first giant sea turtle. Sea turtles are huge and so graceful. Snorkelling was such an amazing experience; our group would be swimming in the clear waters and suddenly someone would shout “look” we would all race to them and share the experience of swimming with the sea turtles or a small shark or just a big school of fish. I think I saw four or five sea turtles throughout the trip. Other highlights were seeing rays, sharks and sea lions swimming alongside our boat and a visit to North Seymour islands allowed us to watch the amazing mating dance of the blue footed boobies.
As we travelled frigate birds followed our boat and rested on the rigging as we lay below sunbathing and hoping that nothing dropped on our heads! At night we enjoyed lying on the sun beds up on deck under the stars and listening to the waves.
After eight days at sea we returned to Santa Cruz to visit the Charles Darwin centre where we met the famous lonesome George.
Flying back to Ecuador, as we sat on the plane we reflected upon the last eight days and a feeling of sadness came over us when we realised that very few people will get the opportunity to visit these amazing islands.
I recommend this amazing adventure to everyone!
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