Arriving in Quito was the first sign of clouds, and a little rain since we left Canada!Danny, met us at the Quito airport and whisked us outdoors into the rain, and the waiting van. The trip into town was the same as in as in Lima – weaving in and out jostling for position, and ALWAYS the need of horns. I swear they must have to change vehicle horns like we change our oil, every 5000 km! He dropped us at the Dann Carlton hotel with the promise to be back at 5:50a.m. As promised we headed for the airport at 10 to 6 in the morning. Traffic was much less congested at that hour, and only a few horns were heard throughout the 40 minute ride. Once at the airport, a little Ecuadorian came and drug me through the crowds with our suit cases, while Gary stayed with Danny to pay the park (Galapagos) fees. This little guy had us weaving in and out of people, and right up to the VIP section for boarding passes, with only two other people ahead of me, I went through very quickly, beating the line up of at least 100 people. I waited for Gary on the other side, and soon Gary came through “security” where they didn’t even check his carry on. Then with a “SafeTrip” said, The little guy was running again to find more people to herd through the airport! The flight to Galápagos Islands was just over 2.5 hrs. with a quick stop in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Next landing was Baltra Island, Galapagos! Once off the plane, we met Hanzel, who was our guide for the duration on the Islands. We first traveled by bus for about 15 minutes, and after crossing a channel in a small boat we boarded another bus on Santa Cruz which took us to the other side of the island where our “Boat”, Galapagos Grand Odyssey, was waiting at Puerto Ayora. Before boarding, , we had a tour of the Charles Darwin Research Centre. Scientific research and monitoring projects are conducted at the centre in conjunction and cooperation with the Galapagos National Park Service . We spent some time with the guide, and then were left on our own to explore the centre ourselves. It was a nice walk around the centre, and the tortoise nursery was pretty interesting, a lot of work has gone in to preserving the tortoise population on the islands (we never did see any tortoises in the wild). Then off for a cerveza in a cute little restaurant next to the pier, watching sea lions as they sun themselves on the piers in the sun. What a beautiful boat. We were on the top floor, with a king bed, which after speaking to those that went before us, was a pleasant surprise! The boat has 8 cabins, but there were only 11 passengers, so a smaller number, and a very nice mix of age, and nationalities. Mama “paparazzi” (so named as she ALWAYS had a camera, video and still, in her hand) was from Switzerland, and her daughter Michelle from Germany. Susan was by herself, from London, and an Australian couple which have been in living in Moscow for some time now, and England for 13 years before that. The youngest couple on the boat, Jason and Chloe were from Hong Kong, and on their honeymoon. (Jason was our underwater photographer, and shared his spectacular photos with us all) And one couple from Idaho, USA. Every day was the same yet so different, and we all lost track of days. So not sure of the order of all the events, but I know we did it all!
Meals on the boat were fabulous, always with a choice of two lunch entrees, Fish was always on the menu. We left the port that night, having dinner at 7:00 pm which was followed by an orientation for the next day. We had an orientation at 6:30 PM every night to go over the next day itinerary, and dinner followed. The first night was a little rough, but I made it through without having any gravol! Was all fine and dandy when we docked at Isabella Island the next morning for a walk on the volcanic rock, and views of White tip Sharks swimming around in a canal. As they are night eaters, they do a lot of laying around at the bottom of the ocean during the day, however, it was shallow, and VERY clear waters, it was pretty impressive, and glad I was on the ground.
We did some snorkeling here too and I have to admit, I knew it wasn’t the warm water season, but it did take my breath away to start! The Incredibly clear waters were perfect for watching fish, and although we were told we “may” see turtles, I really didn’t expect to see them so close! At one point, having my head up, and adjusting my mask, I was totally shocked to put my face back in the water to have not one, but TWO Giant sea turtles swimming under me! I panicked, took in a mouth full of water, coughed and sputtered as I tried to swim away and not hit them with my arms, or legs!!! Incredible! But then I saw the sharks. Yes, they were white tips, and there are no reports that they actually attack people, but the way I look at it, someone was going to be the first, it wasn’t going to be me. I had enough of snorkeling that day, and climbed aboard the dingy!
We truly feel lucky to have had this experience, and would someday like to go back, as there is so much more to see, and experience. Six days was just not enough to see all the islands, and everything these islands offer. A few more random photos to share…