Chris from Into Latin America recently enjoyed a trip to the Galapagos Islands with her husband, Justin. Here is what Justin thought about the trip.
The Galapagos Islands are by far the biggest tourist attraction in Ecuador, known for both their natural beauty and historical importance. On Monday night, we headed down to Guayaquil, only to have our heart broken when we realized the river crab shacks we’d been daydreaming about were closed.
On Tuesday morning, we flew to the island of Santa Cruz, and checked in at Red Mangrove. Unlike most Galapagos trips, which travel the islands in a small cruise ship, Red Mangrove has hotels on three different islands, and delivers you between them. We were on Darwin’s Triangle Short trip, which allowed
us a chance to see not only Santa Cruz, but also Floreana and Isabela.
The first day was light, with a trip to the beach. The next morning, we went to see Los Gamelos, two enormous volcanic craters. Afterward, we went to a reserve to check out the giant tortoises, one of the jewels of Galapagos wildlife. With lifespans of about 200 years, these creatures were around before their neighborhood went to hell with all of us tourists. However, they seem to be taking it all in stride.
After lunch, we headed out to Floreana, a mostly unpopulated island on which Red Mangrove is the only hotel. As you would expect from an island with only 100 inhabitants, the experience was more rustic, although still very comfortable (except for the swarms of mosquitos). After dropping our bags, we went snorkeling, where not only did we see sea turtles and fish, but a frisky sea lion who showed off by frolicking between us. On the way back from dinner, we took a walk to check out the stars, which were absolutely breathtaking. The next morning, we went to check out some more turtles and the residuals of pirate hideouts.
According to our guide Carlos, there is a movie about the first settlers of Floreana starring Javier Bardem in the works, but there’s no evidence of this on IMDB.
Jumping back on the boat for another two hour cruise, we headed to the island of Isabela, which not only features wildlife and a volcano, but a endless, beautiful beach. After lunch, we went on a boat ride to check out some wildlife… turtles, sea lions, small penguins and the for-some-reason famous blue footed boobies. When we got off on one of the small volcanic islands, we got quite a show. A family of sea lions was on the beach when a male interloper repeatedly butted in, only to be quickly and impressively chased off by the male. That must have gotten him in the mood, because he then tried for a while to mate with the female, who wasn’t having any of it. It may have been the kids that extinguished the spark, because after she fought him off, she went up to the mangroves to care for a tiny offspring, still covered with hair. Maybe if he helped out more with the housework…
That night, we said
goodbye to our guides Carlos and Bolivar, who were staying with Susanne and Jackie, two friends from Connecticut who were on Isabela for an extra day. On Saturday morning, with our new guide Juan, we checked out the flamingos and wildlife on Isabela, and spent some more time on the beautiful white sand beach. We headed back to Santa Cruz, where we were placed in a sick suite, and enjoyed a farewell dinner with Brad and Amanda.
The next day we sadly tore ourself away from our beach view TV room and Red Mangrove. Although we obviously can’t compare it to a boat trip, we have nothing but positive things to say about the experience there. All of our guides, and the rest of the staff, were great, the rooms were impressive, the food was tasty… good times all the way around. On Sunday, we took the short trip to Finch Bay Hotel, a high-end hotel on Santa Cruz. The big draw was the beachfront pool, which we lounged by for most of the
day, with extended breaks to the TV room to watch the NFL Championship Games.