Are you Lonesome tonight? In the Galapagos

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Where I stayed
Hostel los Amigos

Flag of Ecuador  , Galapagos Islands,
Saturday, January 22, 2011

The alarm went off at 06:30, I slept better than the lady with the noise of fighting and muggings outside and the rave downstairs we hadn't slept that well and we really do need a good nights sleep anyway today we are a little bit excited because we are going to somewhere we have always wanted to go, the mighty Galapagos Islands, I think we are a little apprehensive as well as we cleary cant afford the usual cruise method of seeing the Galapagos (no sponsors have come forward), so we are going and trying to see as much as we can without spending the kind of money that means 'remortgage’. We have been offered a few last minute deals with $800 each off some of the luxury boats and some backpackers trips down to about $500 each for 4 days. We have decided to go it alone which usually provides an adventure at the same time. In a lot of ways we don’t know what to expect.

We jumped in a cab at about 7:15am and headed off to the airport, where we were dropped not at domestic or international terminal but a small gate called ‘Galapagos Islands’, where extra baggage checks and lots of form filling is done. We were checked in for our flight pretty quickly really and headed straight for the gate so Lady E could do some superfast blogging. After a delay of about 15 minutes we were on our way to Guayaquil which only took about an hour. We then sat on the plane and waited as people got off and new people got on for our flight to the Galapagos. The flight had a bit of an atmosphere of ‘knitting club’ with lots and lots of eldery people, mainly from the States, and lots of the classic looks of tailored shorts with white socks pulled up as high as they will go and a jumper loosely wrapped around the shoulders and the sleeves folded inside out hanging around the neck. We my resewn trousers now falling apart again (nothing to do with Erica’s sewing I have to say) and as mentioned by the lady not fitting anymore and falling very low around my hips, our faded jumpers we looked like we were on the flight to offer a free shoe polishing service.

The flight passed pretty quickly to be fair and we soon arrived on the Galapagos Island of Baltra to the north of Santa Cruz. This island is pretty much barren due to most things being killed during the second world war when these Islands became a critical part of protecting the Panama Canal and the US Navy and Airforce used the island. It later became the main airport for the Galapagos Islands and they are still trying to reintroduce the endemic species back here.

After getting our passports checked and registering our Galapagos ID’s ($10 each) and buying our National Park pass ($100 each ouch!) we jumped on a free bus to take us to the ferry port at the south tip of the Island. The ferry was quick and cheap costing about $0.80 each and we arrived on the Island of Santa Cruz, there were no buses at the ferry port but a girl who lived on the island asked us to share a taxi she had negotiated for $5 each (I was wanting to jump in the back of the pick up and offer 50c each but it was raining (something we hadn’t expected for some reason). We worriedly started to find some kind of accommodation that may be affordable but the girl soon assisted suggested a place which may be about $15 - $20 a night, it is the cheapest in town. It really is a bit nerve wrecking going somewhere that is notouriosly so expensive not knowing just how much of a problem money is going to be. (I suppose we did it on Easter Island but we knew we could camp and rent a tent). We then had a wander around the town for a last go at trying to bribe boat captains, negotiate with agencies etc to see if anyone wanted a few hundred dollars to fill up a boat, any more than that and we will have to call it quits and beg, steal and borrow lifts, trips etc. At least we are here for quite a few days and just hope to be able to see some of the wildlife on offer.

After our initial travel agent tour (ranging from $800 for 7 days to $400 for 4 days) we eventually accepted defeat and headed off to try and find a very special man...... Lonesome George. We knew the walk was a few km but it took us initially to the fish market which had lots of lobsters on sale and not much else, there was a seal in the middle of the market though and some pelicans which I guess were looking for some scraps. We eventually found the Charles Darwin Centre though, famed for saving the giant tortoise species and in particular housing the last of one of the strands of that species Lonesome George.

We started by looking at the land Iguanas themselves a dyeing breed before heading into the Giant tortoise enclosures. We were amazed and a little shocked you could just walk into the enclosures and walk right up to these huge and amazing creatures that have lasted for so many years unchanged. Unfortunately mankind as usual has led to the species being pushed to the brink of extinction and in the 1970’s rescued the only two remaining males and 5 females of one of the species, they now breed them in captivity and try and release them back into the wild. Unfortunately Lonesome George has been less fortunate and is the only one of his species left in the world (the Pinta Island tortoise). At about 100 years old he is considered the rarest of any species in the world (well with only one left I suppose that’s logical!). He has now been placed with two younger ladies from a different species and has absolutely no interest in either of them. If anyone kind find a female of George's species is found there is a $10,000 reward, but that isnt new and none of the islanders have managed to find one yet.

Unfortunately despite all the signs and so on we cant help but feel a bit sorry for most of the captives, you can get into the pens which is amazing and it there are clear signs saying don’t touch them but we saw people leaning over their backs and lay on them, poor bloody sods probably get that every day, we felt guilty getting quite close to them but the rules are there by all means get close but don’t touch and for gods sake don’t lie on them. George however is in his own enclosure where you can get nowhere near him, it took us a second visit to his enclosure for us to find him as he was hidden on the first. The walk back into town took in about 4 pubs all with reasonably priced drinks $3 for almost a litre isn’t criminal, and we as we formulated our plan we happened upon a buy one get one free caprinha bar for $4 so we sat and enjoyed a few of perhaps our favourite drink of the trip.

We eventually managed to negotiate ourselves onto one of the ferries to Isabella for tomorrow afternoon for a pretty steep $25 each but still that is only a quarter of the daily ‘last minute’ cruise price. We have already seen loads of nature and have been amazed at how safe the animals feel around humans, this is mainly due to the lack of predators and you are told that animals always have the right of way! Its amazing and we are really glad to be here and looking forward to the next few days. We secured a couple of underwater cameras to try and scoop a few underwater snaps of whatever we may see. I don’t see us getting them published in a while though so its worth coming back and checking our Galapagos blogs in a few weeks.

And to update on costs, you can get really cheap local spirits in the supermarket, food can be cheap $4 or $5 for a burger and chips in a local restaurant, seafood is about $10 - $15 and lobster about $15 - $20, if we can get a kitchen we will probably buy a lobster at a fish market andsee how much that costs. Of course, this place is full of very rich American's and I have no doubt you can pay a lot of money if you wanted to. It would be nice to be sat on one of the luxury yachts right now but we are happy with our $20 room, it is just great to be here!
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mum on

I am so jealous. Always wanted to go to the Galapagos since school.
THe Origin of the Species and all that.

Stevie T on

Me too. Looks great

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