Changing country.....

Trip Start Aug 28, 2004
Trip End Aug 2005

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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Sunday, May 1, 2005

The airport at Baltra, in the Galapagos is very small, and once the tourists have been bused to their expensive tours, we were left with the locals to be first bused to a ferry where we saw, pelicans and seals and then onto a bus terminal just outside the main town "Puerto Ayuora". Finally in the back of a pickup to a hotel. With our the first room you see is always the best we thought was "Hotel Esterella" at $30 for a/c on hot water and the promise of breakfast was a good deal.

Despite the hot weather and getting up early to catch the plane we decided to vist the Charles Darwin centre, and were rewarded by being nearly the only people there.
The Giant Tortoise`s are the highlight here, with "Lonesome George" being the star attraction in this breeding centre. We witnessed some of these huge creatures trying to mate which was hilarious as they are so clumsy and slow with the females just getting bored and wandering off.

There are several sub species of Giant Tortoises, who have evolved differently, depending on which island they live. Such as longer necks, if they have to reach higher for food and less protective shells if they have no predators. "Lonesome George" is the last remaining "Pinto Island Tourtoise", after he is gone, this sub species will be totally extinct, the scientists are ever hopeful that he will mate, but even up to now he has never displayed any sexual interest in the females he lives with currently (we have since seen video taken by a guy on our trip of "Lonesome George" mating. Which has got the research center very excited as it is the first time in 25 years.

Anyhow bought the T shirt, and found one of the many cheap but excellent resturants. (We had been led to believe that Galapogos is expensive, but not at all). We booked onto an 8 day trip, on the "Free Enterprise", a 100 foot yacht for 75 USD per day including all food and a guide. It is a bit of lottery but it turned out to be a good choice, the food was great, the crew were really friendly and very helpful if a tad silly at times!!! It all went very smoothly.

On the first part of our route we saw a "Minky Whale" which boded well for the rest of the mammels we were going to see. Our route incorporated "Baltra Island" closest to "Santa Cruz", where our Galapogos experience all began at "Freddy`s Tours". From here we moved onto "Santa Fe", lot`s of green turtles here bobbling about, then onto "Isla Espanola", "Isla Floreana" near the "Devils Crown", where we did some pretty amazing snorkelling with "Sea lions", unfortunately we did not get to see shark here, but they hang out in this area a lot. On this same island there is the infamous "Post Office" where you (if you are organised!! Definately not us, as we forgot to bring our cards!!) can post your cards to loved ones and you also take one to post on somewhere on route. A top and really fun idea all in all, we persuaded some of our new pals to take one to an American working at the "American Embassy" in Hanoi too. Perhaps they will get a dinner invite? As for the rest of the route we continued onto Santa cruz to the darwin Centre, home for "Lonesome George". from here we did "Sullivans Bay, excellent for snorkwelling, here we swam with Penguins. The landscape here is beautiful, you can see the other islands quite clearly from the vantage point at the summit, and it`s just like a lunar landscape in places.

We got to swim with "Green Turtles", for such hefty creatures they do move so gracefully thro`the water and so fast when they want to!!! The Sea Lions are just so curious and want to play with you all of the time, they come right up to you and blow at you!!!! It was just wonderful, we got to see all manner of fish, "Sting and Manta rays" too. Towards the end we go to swim with three fat Galapogos Penguins too anf then on our last day of snorkelling we saw a "White Tipped Shark", so graceful and fast in his domain.....

All in all a fabulous time made even more special as we were lucky to spend the time with some really great people on the boat and we got a bargain all round. It has definately been one of the highlights of our entire trip and adventure away. See the map on phoṭs to see our route we took, it was pretty concise and covered pretty much all of what is possible to see, it went beyond our expectations and more. when you expect less you gain more from the whole thing....
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