In February, I set off to Ecuador with a bag packed to the brim with camera equipment and little else for what turned out to be one of (if not the) most amazing wildlife experiences that I have had to date. I have wanted to visit the Galapagos Islands for years but never thought it would be possible and so it really didn't sink in until I landed in Quito.
Quito is the second highest capital in the world so I spent some time there acclimatising to the altitude and exploring the local markets, volcanoes and natural baths. It is also possible to book day trips to markets further away and to the equator.
After a few days of exploring this breath-taking (in more ways than one) city I headed off with my fellow tour members to the Galapagos Islands. I booked my trip with GAP and their local English speaking guide made the whole trip very easy. I flew from Quito to Baltra which is the only one of the Galapagos Islands with an air strip. From there my guide took me to my boat which was to be my home and escort for the next 7 days throughout this prehistoric land.
What came next was truly out of this world. Although I had anticipated an amazing trip it was so much more than anyone had described. I really didn’t expect to see so much wildlife and at times I had to watch where I was walking in case I tripped over any of the unfazed animals that lay in my path. Sea lions lazed around the beach in piles, penguins dive bombed me snorkeling and iguanas and brightly coloured crabs crept up on me as I sat admiring the view. Even the birds have no fear of humans and nest on the ground giving visitors a unique photo opportunity. Frigate birds, Pelicans, Albatross and Blue and Red footed Boobies, to name but a few of these amazing creatures. It’s enough to turn anyone into a bird spotter.
Some Islands are volcanic and incredible examples of cooled ropey lava cover massive areas. The boat tours around the islands and usually travels at night so you wake up in a new destination each morning. Also included in the trip is a visit to the Charles Darwin Foundation Centre where there is a breeding program for the Giant Tortoises and a boat trip to an inland lagoon to spot Manta Rays and Sharks. You are always accompanied by an English speaking guide, a rule of the Galapagos National Park, and what they don’t know about the flora and fauna of the Galapagos probably isn’t worth knowing.
As wildlife encounters come this is hard to beat. It will blow you away. Stay as long as you can, don’t go to Ecuador without going to the Galapagos, even if it means stretching your budget, the experience will be with you forever.
I flew directly to Quito where the tour I booked included an internal flight from Quito to Isla Baltra in the Galapagos Islands. We can arrange direct flights to Quito or show how to include Ecuador in a multi-stop ticket.
We offer plenty of Galapagos discovery trips, including the 7 day Galápagos Land & Sea — Central & East aboard the Xavier III which is similar to my trip. There is an enormous variety of trips for every budget from shoestring and land-based campaign adventures to comfortable cruises - ask us for a trip to suit you.
If you'd like to visit the Galapagos as part of wider trip, we can build an itinerary, or you could look at these group tours: