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Excerpt from the Journal of Olds – Day 400-401 – Ecuador – Galapagos – Puerto Ayora – Part 1

An easy checkout, easy transfer, easy flight and easy transfer later we were in the Puerto Ayora on the island of Santa Cruz by mid-afternoon the next day. We checked into a four bed dorm at Best Homestay which was reasonably priced and had come recommended by a Canadian couple we’d crossed paths with in Guayaquil. We met Kevin the owner, an awesome guy who genuinely cares about the service he’s offering and after we’d cleaned up he took us on a brief but informative tour of the town – something that we’d never had elsewhere on our travels.

He dropped us at a tour agency that he recommended based on feedback from guests and before long we’d booked a 4 night cruise and a day trip to San Cristobal for less than a third of the cost of the 8 day cruises we’d been offered back in Guayaquil – and this was actually going to some interesting islands. We’d also talked at length about our options for the rest of our time in the Galapagos and thanks to the advice of the agent had a much better idea of how we were going to spend it.

While travelling you often find yourself recognising people you pass at various spots and sights. It’s to be expected really as the traveller ‘track’ is very similar for everyone in a given location. After our tour agency success we bumped into a couple that we’d seen on numerous occasions in Guayaquil and on our transfer to Galapagos and finally introduced ourselves. They were Miru and Sarah from Switzerland and unsurprisingly we collectively decided it was beer o’clock. We got on great and after beers took them round to the agent we’d used before arranging to meet them later for tea.

That evening we made the rendezvous and knocked back a few more cervezas while indulging in lobster before taking a nightcap at the Bongo bar and heading back for rest.

We set out to meet Miru & Sarah again the next day around 10am to take a look around the island’s sites together. I’d spoken to Kevin, our host, and got the list of options from him and after a quick look-see we decided that Tortuga Bay would make a good first stop. We enterprisingly borrowed snorkels from the tour company we’d booked with the day before and set out toward the beach.

Glorious sunshine broke through on our wander and by the time we reached the bay we were cooked to perfection. Firmly in photo mode as always I made straight for the lava rocks at the edge of the bay and in moments encountered the spectacular Marine Iguanas.

They’re incredible. I guess they’re not much different to the Land Iguanas but to be equally as impressive is not a bad thing. I spent ages amongst those and the Sally Lightfoot crabs while an opportunistic Pelican swooped around fishing. I eventually tore myself away and returned to the beach where Miru & Sarah were relaxing and we took a wander up to the northern bay where snorkelling was safe, passing many more Marine Iguanas all relaxing in the sun on the beach with little care for the passing gawkers.

Snorkelling was a disappointment with nothing around and visibility about as poor as it could be but it was nice to cool off before we set off on the long walk back. Upon reaching town we took a nice lunch at Cafe Hernan before leaving Miru and Sarah to prepare for their activities the next day while we took a ride up to the Lava Tunnels and Tortoise Reserve at El Chato.

The tunnels were interesting but not jaw-dropping by any means. The highlight was a particularly low section about 50cm off the floor we had to crawl through to complete the circuit. The turtle sanctuary provided an opportunity to get up close and personal with the big ‘uns but while there Fi’s DSLR camera died, the sensor no longer seemingly active, putting a hell of a downer on the day.

We rolled back to town, got cleaned up and met Miru and Sarah again for a few beers and some cheaper fare on the popular food street before supping Caiparinhas and heading back to bed.