Ecuador, Part 4 Galapagos Islands

February 2 – 11, 2018

Before we embarked on our journey, we heard of the Galapagos Islands but we thought it was just something you see on the Discovery channel, never in our wildest dreams did we imagine we would visit one day! and here we are!

Part of the country of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands are an archipelago of 19 islands of which 13 are volcanic. Located in the Pacific Ocean, 600 miles west of the main land. The total population is 25,000 and only 5 of the 19 islands are inhabited.

If you look up travel bucket list or things you should do before you die, more than likely, sailing the Galapagos Islands will make the top 20. To have had the opportunity to see one of the world’s best destinations for wildlife viewing is definitely something we’ll never forget, to make the experience even more special we were able to share it with our oldest granddaughter Eva and her father Jason.

The Galapagos Islands became Ecuador’s first national park in 1959. It was later named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978.

When visiting the Galapagos you have 2 options, you can stay in a hotel in one of the inhabited islands and explore the other islands and sites by taking day trips on boats or base yourself on a live-aboard yacht, which provides accommodations and transportation from island to island. We opted for the later and so happy we did. Other travelers recommended the Angelito Yacht, a small locally owned vessel with only 8 double cabins.

Family owned Motoryacht Angelito

Eva and Jason met us on February 2, 2018 at the Colibri Hostel, we spent the next day hanging out and doing a few projects on Silver then very early the next morning we caught a flight from Quito to Baltra in the Galapagos with a quick stop in Guayaquil. We boarded Angelito just in time for lunch!

We met the crew and the other 11 passengers and our very friendly guide/naturalist Efrain. After lunch we had our first landing on North Seymour Island, we were all blown away by the wildlife!!!

Eva the explorer!

The wildlife, the natural beauty, the variety of different flora and fauna are what makes the Galapagos such an incredible place to visit. The islands are part of a National Park that is very well protected with plenty of preservation measures in place. Only small groups accompanied by a guide/naturalist are allowed to visit the different sites, that’s why choosing your tour is so important, we booked our expedition through Cometa Travel located in Quito, a small agency who has been around for more than 30 years, they are the official representatives of the Yacht Angelito.

Every evening before dinner, we gathered in the dining room with Efrain our naturalist to go over what we saw during the day and the next day’s schedule. This is an example of a typical day, as you can see it’s not a leisure cruise, the days are packed with activities.

Biologists estimate that up to 750,000 seabirds spend time in Galapagos, including 30% of the planet’s blue-footed boobies and the world’s largest colony of red-footed boobies. The fluffy chicks always steel the show! Penguins are associated with the colder regions, but the cool Humboldt Current that flows north from Antartica along the western coast of South America enables the Galapagos penguin to live on islands that straddle the equator.

White sandy beaches and turquoise water, another staple of the Galapagos. Each island its own unique landscapes.
What’s for dinner? Look at that Tuna!

The Angelito is classified as “Tourist Superior” which is not luxurious but it was extremely comfortable and had a family atmosphere that we loved. Our ship mates were also very friendly and well travelled, British, Austrians, Swiss, Canadians and Americans. Eva formed a special bond with Sue a retired school teacher from the Isle of Wight.

The most common mammal is the Galapagos Sea Lion, there are an estimated 50,000 individuals on the islands. Females and pups are amiable and playful but don’t mess with the males. The dominant males are often seen patrolling and guarding their territories from other males, each male may have up to 30 females in his harem.

We spent a day in the town of Puerto Ayora, the archipelago’s tourist hub, on the island of Santa Cruz where we visited the Charles Darwin Research Station, did a bit of souvenir shopping, stopped by the fish market, enjoyed refreshing ice cream, crawled through lava tunnels called (tubes) and interacted with giant tortoises.

Who has not heard about Darwin’s Theory of Evolution? During a five year (1831-1836) voyage around the world, Darwin accompanied Captain FitzRoy on the HMS Beagle as a travel companion and naturalist. The ship stopped over in the Galapagos islands and during this time he had the opportunity to explore a handful of islands, he collected several Galapagos species including the finches which later provided the proof he needed for his groundbreaking theories and in turn, Darwin provided the islands with a unique place in natural history, putting the remote islands “on the map”.

Farewell dinner after a great week exploring magical sites with fun and interesting shipmates and a dedicated crew … memories that will last a lifetime!

Few Facts about Ecuador:

  • Population: 16.62 million (2017) World Bank
  • Area: 109,484 sq miles (283,561 km²)
  • Capital: Quito
  • Currency: US Dollar
  • Time spent:  2 weeks (Nov. 1-14, 2017) and 3 months (January 17-April 13, 2018)
  • Miles driven: 1,448
  • Diesel price per gallon: $1.03 (2017)

If you are a regular reader, you noticed that our blog posts are way behind. For more current updates you can follow us on Facebook at Joe and Josée’s Journey or on Instagram @ joeandjosee

Next: Ecuador, Part 5 back to Quito  … Stay tuned!

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