After coming back from Galapagos and looking at my pictures, everything seems like a dream to me. We had an amazing time on the Islands and it will be hard to summarize everything into one blog post – so I guess I will split them in more than one part. Here comes the beginnig of the story:
We booked our trip and the flights from Guayaquil to Baltra with carpedm adventures as all our other trips in Ecuador as well. We didn’t want to go to a Backpacker boat, though I’m pretty sure they are good as well, but you always get what you pay – unless you are booking from Switzerland, then you pay double for everything and I don’t think the right people get the money. We wanted to have a little bit of luxury – so we decided to go on the southeast itinery of The Beagle – a sailing boat named after the ship with which Darwin arrived to the islands.
The night before take off we didn’t sleep really well – guess we were both nervous about our trip, our group and everything else. At the airport in Guayaquil we had to scan our bags for earth and seeds, pay one part of the entrance fee (20 at the airport in Guayaquil and 100 in Galapagos itself), before Check-in and our 1 hour 50 min flight.
From up above the islands around the airport seemd barren and dusty – we knew from the first sight, that we would not have to worry about rain for the next couple of days.
At the airport we were greeted by our guide Jan Post, who is Dutch, but has been working on the islands for some years now and his Ecuadorian wife is a guide as well. He is very open and likes to talk, after the first day, we already knew a lot about his life. Additionaly his oldest daughter Jay was joining our cruise as well. Because some other guests were flying in later, we had to wait a while at the airport, where Christine was already named 2nd guide for playing around with „the beagle“ Sign ;-).
The boat was anchoring at Puerto Ayora, a picturesque town at the southern end of Santa Cruz. To get there we took the bus, the ferry and another minivan. But we didn’t even realize how time was passing, because we were already fascinated by the first signs of wildlife and how the landscape changed from the barren deserty island of baltra into the lusher rainforestlike hills in the south.
The first impression of the Beagle was already great. After having spent so much time in dormitories it was utter luxury to have our own cabin with two beds and quite a big bathroom (compared to the other sailing boat I was on last year, sailing from Colombia to Pananma). The crew was more than nice to us, because we spoke a little bit of Spanish and treated them the same as the passengers and not like servants – that is always advisable and you get to know everyone better. Although the welcome drink including introductions of everyone and the crew was only on the second night, we already knew half of the staff and their names as well as of course our fellow passengers.
Before dinner on the boat we were visiting the Charles Darwin Breeding station, where they are trying to breed different types of tortoises which are endemic to the islands. For example they were really successful in rebreeding the species of the islands of Española – from 14(!) back to 1200-1400! Incredible. We also learned that the name Galapagos came from exactly these funny looking tortoises. They were different than the seaturtles or other tortoises found on mainland because their neck was really long and their shell evolved in a way that it was possible for them to reach up to the cacti-fruit with their necks and feed on them. The shape of the shell lookes like a saddle and the early settlers called those „galapaga“ – hence the name of the islands.
Jan is one of the little non-Ecuadorian guides on Galapagos – because in the 70ies there were almost only foreigners working as guides and the Ecuadorians revolted (which I can totally understand), nowadays it’s almost impossible to take the course as a naturalist guide as a foreigner…so no job opportunity for me 😉