It was a challenging trip across the Pacific in the small boat. Everything went well, but with a baby in a belt, such an adventure is suddenly only half the fun. The time on San Cristobál was incredible and we are excited to see how La Isabela presents itself. The island was described to us by other visitors as the most beautiful.
The small town of Puerto Villamil is very sleepy. There are no tall buildings, no hotels and no paved roads. But there is a South Seas idyll with long, empty sandy beaches and coconut palms.
A plaza with a statue of the town’s namesake near the beach and a giant artificial Christmas tree form the center of Puerto Villamil.
Tips and costs for the Galapagos Islands can be found on this page.
Our accommodation this time is both in the center of this small town and almost within sight of the beach.
A family runs the hostel Villamil and, charmed by Leon, offers us their kitchen, daily cleaning of the room and a cat.
From the accommodation you have the big square, many restaurants and also small markets nearby. The island’s only ATM is also directly opposite. It’s just stupid that it rarely works. It is a twenty minute walk to the harbor and Concha Perla, where there is excellent snorkeling. From here we can quickly reach numerous agencies that offer tours to the Sierra Negra and the Tunnels.
Chill out on the “house beach” (free)
See lava tubes and penguins on the Tunnels Tour ($100-150)
See the second largest caldera in the world on the Sierra Negra Tour ($25)
Kayak over the Tintoreras and see sharks and penguins (30-50 USD)
Visit to the Giant Tortoise Conservation Center (10 USD)
Watch flamingos in the lagoon (free)To Do’s on La Isabela
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. We can also see turtles and at least hear from sharks.
Only the big sharks come towards the beach while the little ones hide in the reefs and wait for the night.
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:
Eggs! 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.
Cash! 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!
It’s Christmas, we treat ourselves to good food, a coconut and then another dinner on the beach with cocktails. Christmas lights are everywhere and the fir trees and plastic Santa Clauses look strange next to the palm trees, as do the Christmas baubles at the beach bars.
In the center of town there is an event for children where a Papa Noel and a Mama Noel bring gifts. But we don’t hear any Christmas music, apart from “feliz navidad“. We are completely spared from “Last Christmas” this year.
The whole city is cheering for Argentina and as the game turns dramatic and ends in a penalty shoot-out, the residents’ nerves are on edge.
On the second day of our stay, the final of the soccer World Cup will take place in Qatar. I saw Ecuador’s opening game against hosts Qatar in Cuenca.
After all, Argentina wins the game and people are happy for half an hour, then it’s back to the routine of the day.
There is a small shallow lake just behind the house with unhealthy looking water. This is the home of flamingos, which stand in the broth in their magnificent pink plumage and eat small crabs.
Behind it it goes inland over a footbridge over more pools full of iguanas and flamingos through a dense forest to a Galapagos tortoise breeding station. But they want ten dollars entry fee each, we don’t do that. We’ve already had the free treat on San Cristóbal.
As I come out of the water on the beach on our doorstep, a man wants to speak to me. He says that here yesterday a large shark came close to a woman. I should be careful.
No problem, I had my shark wrestling experience in New Zealand!
Esteban from Paraguay will pick up the car from Quito and bring it to Asuncion where it can stay for the long term or be sold.
Then we also learn that the necessary spare parts for our car in Quito will not be received before mid-January. In Ecuador, the useless mechanics couldn’t find them, so I had to organize the parts myself and found them in Paraguay. However, the delivery will take time and from mid-January it is no longer worthwhile for us to leave for Colombia. That’s it for the road trip. The new plan for the future will consist of flights and backpacking.
Nothing is certain except that everything changes.
My research reveals numerous problems. The residence permit for the car will expire and it is difficult to extend a car that cannot be shown to customs. It’s possible that we’ll be denied an extension, I’ve heard from other travelers. So we have to have the parts sent to us after all and hope we don’t have to wait too long in Quito.
The last night on the island is also the last night of the year. Beer stands and a stage are set up in the park, and at midnight people release lanterns into the night sky. They even burn large human figures. Above all, a figure of Lionel Messi with a World Cup trophy is enthroned on a horse led by a French player. Next to it stands an Indian warrior with a spear on which a fried chicken is impaled.
This is probably a reference to the rooster, the emblem of the French national team, which Argentina triumphed over in the final.
The hustle and bustle goes on all night and at 5 in the morning, as we leave for the port and our last ferry, we meet the last people on the way home. It’s not easy to find another sober driver who can take us to the boat with all our luggage. Then we go to the last island of our trip: Santa Cruz.