And so it Goes, The Galapagos

Trip Start Sep 17, 2012
Trip End Dec 06, 2012

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Amigo I Cruise Boat

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

After an already incredible trip, what better way to top it off than 6 days in the famed Galapagos Islands?  The cherry on top.

We awoke Thursday morning, the 29th of November a little groggy but beyond excited to finally reach the Galapagos.  We had a quick breakfast, then piled into taxis and headed to the airport.  In order to fly into the Galapagos, we needed to take two flights, including a layover in Guayaquil. The flights were easy and uneventful, and we were welcomed into the Galapagos with a clear sky and 86° F weather!

Once we got our things together, we met our guide for our time in the Galapagos, John.  He gave us a little time to check out the local artisan market, then we boarded a bus to the harbor where we would meet our boat.  Our boat´s name was ¨Amigo I¨, captained by Franklin.  The entire crew came out to meet us, noticeably excited to have us on board.  We quickly divided into rooms, a lucky few of us managing to snag a bigger room with a bed most likely bigger than our own at home!

After settling in, we sat down to a delicious fish lunch prepared by the chefs on the boat.  Afterward John, our guide, introduced us formally to the Galapagos Islands, giving us some quick background information and letting us know our general plan for the next few days in paradise!  We finished our food, then the majority of us headed up to the roof of the boat as we sped to our first snorkeling destination.

Snorkeling felt like something out of a movie.  The water was crystal clear, fish all around and the marine life was unbelievable.  We snorkeled for close to an hour before it began to get late, so we headed back to the boat to get ready for dinner.  After an equally incredible dinner, we were briefed on the following day´s activities, then given time to hang out/read/relax before bed. 

The next morning, we woke up, had breakfast, then gathered our snorkel gear and piled on to ¨The Zodiac¨ a small dingy to take us to shore.  We first visited the first post office in the Galapagos, a barrel consisting of postcards and letters addressed to places all around the world.  The way it worked, was if you found a card addressed to a place near where you live, you take said card and deliver it yourself.  As we all sorted through the piles of mail, there was the occasional gasp followed by, ¨I know that place! That´s super close to me!¨ 

After finding a bunch of postcards to be hand delivered when we return, we set off further into the island finding some lava tubes.  Lava tubes are caves formed by the constant flow of lava underground, digging out these large passageways.  The tubes were literally pitch black, so use of a flashlight or head lamp was necessary.  As we ventured further into the tubes, we began to notice sitting water at our feet, getting deeper as we kept moving forward.  Stripping down to our bathing suits, we continued through the tubes by means of swimming. The water was cold, but extremely clear and refreshing!  We reached the end, then turned back to return to the top.

We snorkeled again from the beach, this time seeing sea lions, giant sea turtles, and even some penguins!  It was incredible swimming within inches of sea lions bigger than we are, as well as observing two sea turtles mate from less than five feet away!  After taking some photos of the incredible wildlife around us, we returned to the boat hungry for lunch!

Following yet another tasty lunch, we headed to a different beach nearby that was FILLED with sea lions!  Sized from new born baby to alpha male, anywhere you looked there was a sea lion swimming, lounging around or sleeping.  After photos galore we headed out for a little hike within the island.  We quickly arrived at one of the most beautiful beaches any of us have ever seen.  Pristine white sand, clear blue water and sting rays lining the shore.  We sadly had to leave the beach after only a short visit, snorkeled for a bit and played in the water with a baby sea lion, then returned to our boat for dinner and bed.

Our third day on the boat began with breakfast, then a zodiac ride to the island of Santa Fe.  There we again saw an abundance of sea lions and later hiked to find land iguanas and some Galapagos hawks.  We returned to the beach to hang out with the sea lions a bit more before getting back on the boat and snorkeling again.  This time, we observed a sleeping sea lion as well as a few white tipped reef sharks!  After snorkeling we ate, then traveled for two hours to South Plaza.

Once we arrived at South Plaza, we again snorkeled, seeing giant sting rays and some huge lobster.  However, we were forced to get back on the boat due to some giant shark sightings.  Despite our pleadings to continue swimming, our guide John informed us that due to cloudy water the sharks might mistake us for sea lions and attack!  Good thing we listened.

That night after dinner we were given the opportunity to visit Puerto Ayora, a large city on one of the islands, for a bit of independent exploration.  The next morning we got off the boat, said goodbye to our crew, and took a tour of the highlands of Santa Cruz Island.  We visited ¨Los Gemelos¨, two massive twin craters separated by a few hundred feet.  Afterward we toured a turtle enclosure, seeing some huge turtles much bigger than ourselves!

After a quick lunch we checked into a hostel in the city, then had the afternoon to ourselves to further explore and hang out around the city.  That night most of us visited a local burger place in town, getting large burgers for a cheap price!  After dinner we all headed down the block to this delicious ice cream place where all of us enjoyed a cold treat. 

Our last day in the Galapagos began with a quick breakfast in the hostel, then we all made our way to a beach located a few miles from our hostel.  At the beach, we relaxed, swam and climbed on rocks catching glimpses of marine iguanas as well as some quick finches!  After some snacks on the beach, we had our final team meeting, a wrap up of the trip and some reflections.  After the meeting we headed back to our hostel, showered and changed, then headed out as a group to a nice restaurant for our last night in the Galapagos.

The next morning we said goodbye to our paradise, then headed out to the airport.  Slowly it began to dawn on us that this trip was coming to a quick end.  Three months later, we were preparing to say our goodbyes and get back to reality, but not before a couple of days in Quito to top it all off.

In only one short day, we will be back with our families and friends, recounting this incredible experience.  It has been nothing short of amazing, and I´m sure we would all do it again in a heartbeat.  We would like to express our greatest thanks to Brad, Jo and Shawn, and you all who have made it possible to be here.  See you soon!

With Love,
Oliver and Noah
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