Since we have to wait an indefinite amount of time for our car to be repaired – Christmas and the turn of the year don’t make the situation any better – and we don’t feel like staying longer in Quito, we make a decision very quickly. We fly to Galapagos. So. If we’re stuck in the only city with flights to these unique islands, let’s take our chance.
Two days after our decision we land on San Cristóbal, one of the three large islands of the Galapagos. Who has not heard of these islands and their biodiversity. In my opinion, the reports from the Galapagos Islands are exaggerated and the region is already too exploited for tourism to be authentic.
There are only two airports in the world from which to get to the Galapagos Islands: Quito and Guyaquil, Ecuador. So there are few alternatives. There are also only two airports on the islands that you can fly to: San Cristobál Airport and Santa Cruz Airport. We chose to fly to San Cristóbal first, visit the other islands and return from Santa Cruz.Flights
Traveling to the Galapagos Islands is expensive. After the trip to Quito, continue to the islands. As in Ecuador, you pay with US dollars on the Galapagos Islands!
The flight costs about 300 USD per person. At the airport you have to pay a tourist fee of 20 USD per person first. At the airport of Santa Cruz or San Cristobál another 100 USD per person entry into the Galapagos National Park is due. If you change an island you have to pay 30 USD per trip per person for the trip with the small ferry (e.g. from San Cristobál to Santa Cruz or Santa Cruz to La Isabela) and the entrance to the islands costs money again, for example $1 for Santa Cruz and $10 for La Isabela. Especially on Santa Cruz and La Isabela you often need water taxis. A ride per person costs a flat rate of 1 USD.Expenses
But already on the approach it takes our breath away. What’s that all over the water? are those waves stones? No, those are… oh my… Those are hammerhead sharks!!!
Hundreds of sharks with heads like tools of different sizes frolic over a large area just below the surface of the water.
There’s a lot of beach. A long sandy beach stretches over three kilometers from the port. Iguanas sun themselves on the individual lava rocks and trudge inland between our feet.
In the water, fish or a few sea lions dart through the waves of the surf.
As is often the case in remote places, here in the Galapagos Islands there are problems with the supply of certain things.
Two things stand out to us:
There are many ATMs on Santa Cruz and there are at least several on San Cristobál. There’s one on Isabela, and it’s always broken! A credit card can hardly be pushed into the slot. You can often see a line of tourists trying their hand there. As long as the machine works, because every few days the machine shows “Fuera de servicio” and then you have to wait for another bank employee to take a ferry from Santa Cruz. There is hardly a restaurant or shop that accepts credit cards. The few who accept credit cards charge a “fee” of up to 20%. So: better make provisions with cash!Cash!
It’s always Easter in the Galapagos because you have to hunt for eggs. Apparently no chickens are allowed to be kept (although we saw some) and once a week there is a delivery of eggs to the shops. If you don’t make provisions then, you’ll get nothing for the rest of the week. That’s exactly why there are no more eggs two days later. Everyone hoards the home. There are only two shops that sell eggs on Isabela. In other shops we find eggs like stolen goods – from private stock, after business hours.Eggs!
In the city of Purto Ayora, Puerto Villamil or Puerto Baquerizo Moreno we can rent bikes (15 USD per day per person) and see more of the island on our own on the sandy slopes. There are also variants where you have to pay 3 USD for one hour and only 10 USD for 5 hours.Bycicles
To Do’s in Santa Cruz
- Walk through the city and along the promenade (free)
- Observe the sea creatures in the harbor basin (free)
- Watch the fishermen at 7 a.m. at the harbor fighting pelicans and sea lions after returning from the catch (free)
- Visit the Charles Darwin Research Center ($10 entrance fee NP)
- Visit the beach near Darwin Station (same $10 NP)
- Rent a bike and explore inland (15 USD/person)
- Visit Playa de los Alemanes (1 USD/person water taxi)
- Visit Bahia Tortuga (10 USD/person water taxi or 1h walk)
- Visit one of the island’s coffee plantations (bycicle/taxi)
- Visit one of the inland caves (bycicle/taxi)
- Visit the secluded Playa de Garrapatero (taxi)
To Do’s in La Isabela
- Chill out on the “house beach” (free)
- Rent a bycicle and explore the island from the beaches to the wild giant turtoises and the Muro de las Lagrimas (15 USD/person)
- Snorkeling in the Concha Perla (free)
- See lava tubes and penguins on the Tunnels Tour ($100-150)
- See the second largest crater in the world on the Sierra Negra Tour ($25)
- Kayak over the Tintoreras and see sharks and penguins (30-50 USD)
To Do’s In San Cristobál
- Walk through the city and along the promenade (free)
- Visit the Playa Mann, use the bar and swim with sea lions (free)
- Be approached by sea lions at Punta Playa Carola (free)
- Visit the Interpretation Center and learn about the island’s geology, history and biology (free)
- Rent a bycicle and explore inland (15 USD/person)
- Walk to Muelle de Tijeras and swim with sea turtles there (free)
- Dive to the Carawa shipwreck near the harbor (requires an agency)
- Visit the Lagoon and the Highlands (bycicle /taxi 50-60 USD package)
- Visit the Galapaguera de Cerro Colorado with giant tortoises (Bike/Taxi 50-60 USD package)
- Visit the beautiful deserted beach of Puerto Chino (bike/taxi 50-60 USD package)
- Book a 360 degree tour (1 day) and snorkel with sharks, turtles and sea lions (120 – 180 USD)