After a failed attempt last year due to a knee injury Jennifer had, we were able to schedule our visit of Galapagos this year. I want to thank Arturo for convincing me that we really wanted to go on a one week boat tour of local islands to visit the pretty incredible animals that live there and are totally unfraid of you (you can be 1 meter away, or some will even come up to you because they do not see you as a threat).
So the way we did the trip was one week on a boat that is only allowed to do land tours (no diving allowed, but snorkeling ok), and one boat that was only allowed to do diving. I've already written bigger rants in the page on diving, so I won't repeat them here, but I'm generally unhappy how Ecuador has been making seeing sights and diving more and more of a pain in Ecuador almost every year: we went next to Islands that it would have been great to see for an hour, but we were not allowed to set foot on because it was the wrong time, or we were not allowed to dive sites that were ok for diving, unused when we were there, but reserved for day boats to list just those. Worst, we even had a bus that was not allowed to stop at a sight on the sight of the road because they didn't have a park ranger license to let us off and have a 5mn peak at sink holes which others could see. WTF, seriously?
Getting the land boat with the better of the 2 8 day trips (forced by yet new regulations to make boats to go more places) and something that would match a diving boat in June was no small feat, and Ellen from boutiquetravel.net was great help getting everything lined up and organized for us (we waited until June because it increased our chances of seeing whale sharks although the tradeoff was colder waters).
Anyway, we had to fly to Miami, and from there flew to Quito, a nice ancient town high up (over 9000ft) which we visited before flying to Galapagos:
Nice colonial hotel we stayed at in old town Quito (Patio Andaluz)
Breakfast had lots of local fruit to sample, made for a happy Jennifer :)
Paul from Andesconexion set us up with a very knowledgeable guide and a good tour of Quito:
Plenty of high peaks with Glaciers in the Andes
Sampling more local fruit :)
We happened to be there for the weekly presidential speach to his people and ceremony:
Jesuit church filled with gold leaves
We then went to the fake latitude 0 line and museum (it's actually off by 0.06 seconds a per my 3 GPSes). The setting was nice, but the bullshit and faked experiments they were showing on top of a claimed 0 latitude line that was clearly in the wrong place kind of insulted my intelligence more than I entertained me. I personally don't recommend this place, even if some of what they had was somewhat interesting, I don't condone lying and lying more when asked or confronted.
They had a faked experiment where they showed that being 5 meters N or S of their incorrect equator line somehow would change the rotation of draining water which of course a crock of shit. I was not amuzed by how they were just spreading disinformation to people with faked experiments:
Don't bullshit Mc Guyver. Latitude 0 Calculada con GPS my ass!
The real equator line was outside their property in the street.
After that we managed to get to the big cathedral in Quito (not part of the tour) and climb to the bell towers. It was a dicy (and tough climb with the altitude), but well worth the effort:
agrophobia and climbing the towers didn't mix :)
After that, it was time for a dinner at an elevated terrace just 5mn from our hotel at Vista Hemosa
what time is it anyway? :)
And a set of sorbets from the catacombs (served with dry ice, no less)
We had a great day, except for Jennifer who wasn't able to digest food during the night due to the altitude :(
The next morning, we got up way too early to fly to Baltra in Galapagos
After getting off Galaven, we had 2 days to burn in St Cristobal. We used them to explore the Island.
It's a nice little town, and we liked the Miconia hotel we stayed at, although it had the suckiest internet I ever had the chance to witness so far. I guess that gave me an excuse to go outside some more :)
St Cristobal is a nice little town where sea lions come and cross the street and sleep on bus benches :)
it was too high for the poor little guy to jump. I walked him back to a place where it was able to get back to sea.
Finches came to share our breakfast :)
Oh, and they had slipper lobster for dinner, so that was good :)
The first day, we went on a tortoise tour (shown on Galaven page), and the second day, we hiked through the interpretation center to a far away beach after an uncertain 2km trail through rock hoping and somewhat heavy vegetation. The end result
rocky trail to say the least
ready to go snorkel
we got a fast ghost crab to get out of breath so that we could catch it. Poor thing was missing a leg already
Once we got to our private beach, we saw many turtles while snorkeling:
Due to the lovely regulations, we were within swimming distance from Bartolome just 10 days prior, but not allowed to go there that day, so we had to spend a lovely 6 hours boating there and back from Santa Cruz after our Aggressor tour. The climb and view were nice, even if too short compared to the trip.
The snorkeling was actually the same place we had been to just 10 days prior, which was a bit of a downer, but I was able to see a penguin swim and fish for a few minutes, which had I had failed to see last time, so it wasn't all for naught even if the backtracking felt wasteful, in both fuel/pollution and time.
sea lion bones
good view :)
The snorkeling gave a few other pictures:
It was a bad day for the little fish :)
On the way back to Santa Cruz we saw some giant sink holes left behind by giant lava tubes were the top collapsed. Impressive.
And that was it, after that it was time to go home through Guayaquil. We went for a quick walk by the waterfront (dirty water, not very safe city, but nice enough 2H walk anyway):
the ducks were very happy to be fed :)
Oreo cookie festival and amusement park. We almost missed out :)