Cruising around the Galapagos: Part 1 – Santa Cruz and Isabela Islands
Put together 16 random people from all over the world on a first class boat for 7 days. It could go one way or the other. In our case it was a fantastic cruise, made great by the people on it.
I booked the boat ‘Treasure of Galapagos’ about 5 days before its departure from Puerto Ayora in Santa Cruz and managed to get a pretty good deal. Cruises are still expensive, but if you’re planning a island hoping and a day trip every day, with food and accommodation it can get up towards the daily price of a cruise anyway.
Our boat had a mixture of couples and solo travellers from the USA, Australia, Hong Kong, England, Switzerland and me the token Kiwi. I was the youngest (just) and the rest of the group ranged up to 60, but all were very lively, happy people and we all got along incredibly well. It was one of the best groups I’ve been with on my travels, having lots of great conversations, laughs and good times.
I was lucky enough to get upgraded to my own room. It was karma I figure, given all the illnesses and ‘interesting’ accommodation I’ve been in lately. The rooms varied a little, some having blankets, robes, working hair dryers and working air conditioning. Luckily mine had the last two things at least! Food was buffet-style every meal and a pretty good spread of salads, vegetables, fish and other meat. Coffee, tea and cookies whenever you want them. We even had juice and a food platter to welcome us back on the boat each day after a snorkel or hike.
I had booked a 7 day cruise around the western islands, which really means 5 days because the first day we stayed on the island that we started from (Santa Cruz) and the last day we were dropped off early morning.
We visited the Charles Darwin Breeding Centre of tortoises (which I’d already done) on the first day and headed to the bay of Eden and around Santa Cruz on the second day. Blue boobies and some other birds could be seen around the island.
This was where we had our first snorkel which I was a bit nervous about and didn’t see much (many other people saw sharks etc). For me, it was a matter of getting used to my snorkel mask and avoiding water getting in it!
Due to the broken GoPro (specifically purchased for the Galapagos before I left the UK) I haven’t got any photographs to show you from snorkelling. I managed to purchase a waterproof disposable camera before the trip, but it’s film so I’ll have to wait awhile before I can process that.
We hiked on Santa Cruz in the afternoon to see colourful red and yellow land iguanas and have some nice views over the island.
Day 3 brought Isabela island. The biggest island in the archipelago. We started on the island of Tintoreras (just out of the harbour of Isabela) where we walked around lava rocks to see the white tipped sharks in a little channel. Marine iguanas were also lazing about around the island.
There was also a few sea lions and penguins to spot along the island.
After breakfast was a short snorkel in a cove on Isabela in crystal clear waters.
In the afternoon it was time to see another breeding centre for tortoises. To be honest, the animals just looked sad. The enclosures for the young ones seemed to almost be overflowing and the few bigger ones just looked unhappy. I’ve course, there was the token couple that decided to give us a display of their mating ability too.
The island of Isabela wasn’t much to talk about in my opinion. We wasted some time walking around and ended up just chilling in a cafe to end the day.
Note: I’ve split my cruise up into a few posts so that you can see various photographs of the animals on each island and so I don’t bore you all with one giant post! Stay tuned for the next instalment as we moved around the western coast of Isabela and up to Fernandina!
Fun! Glad you were with a compatible group — it definitely adds to the fun of travel.
Wonderful photos too — so crisp and clear. I love the first marine iguana swimming in the water photo — maybe it’s just me but I could swear he’s grinning at the camera.
Thanks! The marine iguanas were pretty funny at times on the various islands in their various poses!
We met in the Masaya Hostel dorm in Bogota and discussed your trip in the Galapagos since I will be visiting there in December. You were full of information but I didn’t know you were an amazing photographer too! Love your pics!
I am really looking forward to reading the rest of your Galapagos posts! Can you post the name of the tour company you booked your cruise through?
Hi Amanda, thanks for all your comments! If you can’t locate my answers please feel free to email me at email@example.com for more info now or closer to the time you organise your trip! I booked my cruise on the Treasure of Galapagos, through Moonrise Travel I think on Santa Cruz. However, I would recommend checking out http://www.dealsgalapagos.com/ and either contacting them about boats or googling the particular boats and enquire about dates/prices directly with the boat for a good price. Hope that helps!
Thanks for the quick reply! I took some notes during our conversation, but I realized that there were a lot of sites with similar names. Thanks for the links!
You’re welcome, ask away anytime!
I’ve been living in Ecuador for a year now, but I haven’t made it to the Galapagos yet. Thanks for including the name of the cruise company; it’l be making my planning much easier! Beautiful photos (from all the posts)!
You’re welcome! Happy planning. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need any more help!