Amazing reasons to visit the Galapagos

What to see in the Galapagos. Journey to the Galapagos Islands.

The Galapagos have been one of the strongest experiences of recent years. In my personal ranking, these islands are on par with Bolivia’s Altiplano and African safaris. Unique, unusual, another planet and the whole trip full of moments when you can’t believe your eyes.

A lost world where seals sleep rough on benches on the waterfront, huge iguanas stroll imposingly through the city, turtles swim with you side by side. And blue-footed boobies hatch their eggs serenely and perform their famous dance of seduction a meter away.

The islands, lost in the Pacific Ocean and 1,100 kilometers away from the Ecuadorian mainland, are also called “turtle islands.” Many imagine the Galapagos another Maldives – with white sand, palm trees and starry hotels. But no. They do not look very remarkable – scorched brown earth, almost no greenery. Yes, and beaches suitable for swimming, too, units. Until the mid-20th century, they generally remained uninhabited.

These islands are of volcanic origin, and it is because of its inconspicuousness they were able to maintain uniqueness. And the variety of flora and fauna, which attracts travelers from around the world.

No one was interested in them, until one day in 1835, the ship Beagle with an expedition, which included the young Charles Darwin, docked at the islands. During the five weeks he spent there, Darwin collected samples of flora and fauna, made sketches, compared…

Though there are many islands, 17 of them, only three are inhabited. Some of them can’t even be landed from boats. And there are islands, such as North Seymour, where you can only get in a group and walk only on lined trails, so as not to disturb its inhabitants.

The main airport and the largest city of Puerto Ayora are on Santa Cruz, where most of the planes arrive. Or rather, planes land on Baltre, a small island near Santa Cruz, and then a 10-minute bus ride and the same time by ferry, all travelers are on Santa Cruz.

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There’s a lot to do in Galapagos, and when you start exploring all the offers, just go crazy. There are trekking on volcanoes, and lava tunnels, dozens of beaches, each of which is claimed to be the best in your life, and each crowd of iguanas, seals, turtles and blue-footed boobies. In fact, not all of these places are as impressive as you would expect from a “lost world” and another planet.

The most important value of the islands for me are the animals and birds endemics, which are not afraid of people, and to which you can approach at arm’s length. Volcanoes, tunnels are secondary and there are plenty of places to see them.

So if you have limited time and only want to see the best, I’ve chosen five of my favorite places that you just can’t miss if fate takes you to these islands one day.

El Chato Reserve

It is located in the heart of Santa Cruz, in the town of Santa Rosa. It is a private ranch with a large area where huge turtles roam around. It’s really cool that you don’t see turtles in enclosures, but just in the wild. You walk next to them, observe, take pictures. The islands, by the way, mean “turtles” – called so because of the huge number of these ancient animals.

A sad fact that significantly reduced the population of turtles in the Galapagos – they were taken on board as live canned food, they were the main food for the pirates.

Torguga Bay Beach

You’ll fall in love with this place at first sight, it just couldn’t be any other way. The wide, endless beach with white sand and turquoise water. Since this is a protected area, there are no tents, vendors, sun loungers, allowed only until 6 pm. Ideal. The only downside – you can not swim. The strongest currents can carry you into the ocean just in seconds. There is a lagoon at the very end of the beach that everyone swims in.

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But don’t feel bad. This place is designed to just enjoy the surroundings and the beauty around you. And the iguanas that wander serenely along the beach after swimming.

They can stay long enough in the salt water, diving to a depth of 10 meters for their favorite algae. And then spend hours basking in the sun.

It takes about forty minutes to walk to the beach from the city, there are also boats, but it takes the same amount of time to get there.

North Seymour and blue-footed boobies.

Yes, this is one of the most expensive excursions on the islands. And you have to sign up for it in advance, because only four boats a day of 16 people can visit the place. But believe me, it is worth it. You want to see funny bluebirds just a meter away from you. And how the males do their famous dance around the females. And mothers hatch eggs with an important look. And the chicks that have just recently appeared in the world. And they don’t even have blue feet yet, can you imagine? By the way, they acquire this shade only after two years of life.

Well, besides these most famous inhabitants of the Galapagos, there are many other interesting things here – for example, frigates and important huge iguanas.

Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are part of Ecuador. I didn’t know that when I was going to South America for the first time. Jungles yes, volcanoes yes, but the fact that the very Darwinian Galapagos, home to century-old turtles, would be so close to Ecuador’s capital, Quito, and even closer to the second most populous city, Guayaquil, I couldn’t have imagined.

I flew to Ecuador to visit a friend, to remember Spanish, to trade in the Moscow winter for an equatorial off-season. I flew to Ecuador to remember Spanish and exchange Moscow’s winter for the equatorial winter.

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On the Galapagos Islands, I met a Frenchman who ran a restaurant near Machu Picchu: he came to Peru, making a round-the-world trip, met his future wife there, and stayed. The French traveler asked me how old I was, and when he found out I was 23, he said wistfully: “Feel how lucky you are to be here. Some people don’t get that chance in a lifetime.”

I felt it. And I wish everyone could feel it: the uniqueness of the Gal√°pagos in every inch of land, in the black shores of frozen lava, in the unafraid dignity of iguanas strolling across the sand, in the lazy movements of sea lions, in the flapping wings of a pelican trying to steal a fish at the coastal market.

How to get there

It should be said right away that there are many Galapagos Islands. The largest is Isabela. A little smaller is Santa Cruz, where the largest city of Puerto Ayora is located. Then there is San Cristobal and Floriana. Only these four islands are inhabited. The others are inhabited by seals, iguanas and birds.

You can get to the Galapagos by plane and ferry. Now I will tell you the details.

By Air

Airplane is the most convenient way to get to the Galapagos. In any case, you have to change planes from Russia. Since you are going to cross oceans and seas, it makes sense to visit not only the Galapagos, but also Ecuador, because connection is usually made there.

The easiest way to get from Moscow to the airport of the Ecuadorian capital, Quito, is a round-trip ticket of about 1500 USD. The most popular flights are realized by KLM (change in Amsterdam) and Iberia (change in Madrid). There are also combined flights of Aeroflot, Air France, American and local COPA. I want to draw your attention to the fact that if the flight has a connection to the USA, you will need an American visa (even just to stay in the transit area).

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You can go directly to Galapagos, but the ticket costs more – about 2000 USD: you will fly with the same airlines via Moscow – Europe/USA – Guayaquil, and then local airlines to Galapagos. There are two airports on the islands: San Cristobal and Baltra.

Flights to the Galapagos from Quito (the capital) or Guayaquil (the largest city on the coast) are operated by Colombia’s Avianca and Ecuador’s TAME and LAN-Ecuador. The flight from Quito or Guayaquil to the island of Baltra, where the most popular airport in the Galapagos, takes two hours and one hour, respectively. A ticket from Quito costs about 150 USD, from Guayaquil – 50 USD. Non-Ecuadorian citizens can’t buy a one way ticket, so multiply by two.

I flew first to Quito, lived there for a few days, and then made my way to the Galapagos: flight Quito – Baltra with landing in Guayaquil. Didn’t plan anything in advance and bought the last ticket for 150 USD. There are a lot of flights – at least eight per day, but you shouldn’t do this: the earlier you book, the cheaper the tickets, you can buy the route Guayaquil – Baltra for 14 USD.

On arrival, you have to stand in line for the paperwork – in your passport will put a special stamp with a turtle, and go through an inspection of things for alien to the islands’ flora and fauna, pay 100 USD, as any foreigner who visits the reserve.

Ticket price options can be viewed here.

How to get from the airport to inhabited places

The airport is located on the uninhabited island of Baltra. From there, a free bus takes tourists to the ferry, and it takes them to Santa Cruz, where there are cabs to Puerto Ayora.

It’s convenient to buy a tour on the mainland, then you’ll be met and taken to your hotel and attractions. I was met for the first time in my life with a sign “Daria Ofitserova. A quiet, tanned man took me to the bus where all the passengers were packed, including an American couple with a child and four suitcases, tourists in Ecuadorian hats, groups of schoolchildren, Indians, and me, a lady in a pink overalls suit.

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From the plane to the bus, from the bus to the ferry. It took a minute to sail, everyone put on their vests, paid a dollar each, took off their vests, and got off at Santa Cruz. Not expecting personal transportation, I walked to the buses, ready to get on any one the conductor would show me. But no: he got behind the wheel of a pickup truck-it’s the most popular mode of transportation here: even police officers drive pickup trucks-and we drove.

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