6 May 2012
I left the hotel at 6.30am for my final G Adventures tour – this time to the Galapagos. After a very disorganised airport process (both out of Quito) and then into San Cristobal Island in the Galapagos (single line to enter the islands for two planes of tourists – lots of standing in the sun), we met our group leader (who explained that San Cristobal is the capital of the islands and second largest in terms of population – with 6000 inhabitants, and then came to the Hotel Blue Marlin (6 minutes from the airport going through the island’s only two sets of traffic lights. It is a small island! (oh and the hotel has lovely huge rooms and a nice pool area).
We then walked down to the harbour for lunch. Even though the guide said the sea-lions could sometimes be walking on the road, I am not sure I believed him until we reached the street running along the harbour. You would think the sea lions owned this town. There were at least a hundred – sleeping on the benches, gathered in groups, playing on the playground and generally looking like locals.
Needless to say I took quite a few pictures and after a lunch of fish with rice and lentils (not bad), I ran back to the hotel for my other lenses and didn’t waste a minute before the afternoon activities – getting more pictures of the sealions playing in the water, along with other Galapagos creatures right in front of us – the crabs and small iguana type lizards.
We then met again to go to the centre of the island – a bus took us up to the highlands (really just a carpark) where we all got mountain bikes to ride back to town. It was lots of fun to be back on a bike and I am definitely glad we were going down the hill (brakes got a workout), as uphill may have been quite tough.
There were two stops – one at a small treehouse that had a bar made of 24,000 beer bottles (a few of the group offered to help build the next one – or at least create the materials).
Then, a bit further on, we stopped at a beach – or a sanctuary for the sealions. As we walked along the beach we spotted more marine iguanas (bigger this time, though tough to see as they blend with the rocks), and the sea-lions lazing on the beach. Again – it felt like they were the residents, and I guess they are.
After a quick swim (where the sea-lions were only about 50 metres away – can’t wait to snorkel with them later in the trip), we headed back to town.
We went for a group dinner which was OK – the fact that a TV was on throughout the meal didn’t encourage much talking but after the meal we went back down to the waterfront. If before the sea-lions looked at home – now it is moreso – hundreds of them on the beach and all the benches! It was amazing to watch them but I am glad the hotel is a couple of blocks away – the noise they made was incredible, and the smell not too great either.
However, overall, my first impression of the Galapagos Islands – unbelievable. I think I may have overused that word on this trip so far but it is true – an incredible place and I can’t wait to get to explore more!