Gearing Up for the Galapagos Islands: Finally!


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Thirty years ago I dreamed of going to the Galapagos Islands to snorkel with sea lions, walk past nesting blue-footed boobies and trip alongside giant tortoises.

You know what?

Dreams do come true.

Making a Plan and Checking It Twice

Boat or land tour?

That was the first big hurdle we had to cross when we finally decided the time had come to walk in Charles Darwin’s footsteps.

One of Darwin’s finches – it’s all in the bill! (Photo: Brad Kopp)

There were pros and cons to each. Boat tours are expensive. Sea sickness is a concern.

Land tours are limited in scope. They require extra travel time between islands.

After hours poring over guidebooks, scouring the internet and checking potential trip options with TripAdvisor – we decided a cruise was the way to go. Not ultra-budget, not luxury – somewhere cruising comfortably in the lower middle.

But which boat?

Which islands?

How many days?

The budget was set. We had a month of travel through Ecuador and Peru. We couldn’t afford more than a small sample of the Galapagos.

After days of deliberation and countless hours on the computer, we settled on G Adventures 7-day (Quito to Quito) Land and Sea option.

Galapagos – Ready or Not!

We met our G Adventure representative in Quito, at the Hilton – no less! We reviewed the trip itinerary and learned that everyone else was already travelling on an extended tour, so we would join them in the Galapagos.

Our room was overlooking the green expanse of Parque El Ejido. We could see the Basilica in the distance. Sorting through a month’s worth of gear, we downsized to one bag, storing the extra bag with the hotel before crashing for a few hours.

The 4:00 a.m. breakfast and 4:30 a.m. departure would come far too soon.

On the morning flight, we saw signs of heavy rains and flooding of lowlands near Ecuador’s west coast from the plane window.

Flooded lowlands near Guayaquil (Photo: Brad Kopp)

A quick refuelling stop in Guayaquil, a short hop across a thousand or so kilometres of Pacific Ocean and we were wheels down on Baltra – a tiny island that was once a USA military base.

Boat ride from Baltra to Santa Cruz (Photo: Brad Kopp)

A short 10-minute bus ride to the dock, another short 10-minute boat ride, and into the van with our G Adventure guide for the 45-minute drive up over the highlands and down into Puerto Ayora.

The fog and drizzle lifts.

Floral scents fill the air.

Deep green, grassy fields hide ancient tortoises.

Lava Lizard (Photo: Brad Kopp)

After 30 years of waiting, we are finally here. Feet firmly planted in the land of Charles Darwin. We spent the afternoon hiking to the powder-fine white sands of Playa Brava – mockingbirds, lava lizards and finches!

Lava Heron on the hunt! (Photo: Brad Kopp)

Another short walk past sunning marine iguanas to kayaks waiting in Tortuga Bay, paddling past red mangroves to view dozens of mating green sea turtles, young black-tipped reef sharks, and squawking lava herons.

The land and sea are alive.

I revel in its wildness.

And I can’t seem to get this smile off my face; some things are worth waiting for!

If you have been (or are you planning to go) to the Galapagos, what tips do you have for selecting the perfect adventure to fit your budget?

Next up: Tortoise Time in the Galapagos






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