"Cruising the Galapagos" Galápagos Islands by nattybabe

Galápagos Islands Travel Guide: 1,271 reviews and 6,255 photos


I didn’t know what to expect when we booked our trip to the Galapagos Islands. I’m not by any means a nature buff but now I look back on my experience on the open seas as one of the best times of my life.

Basically, it’s extremely difficult to see the Galapagos Islands unless you go on a tour. I suppose you can hire a guide and see it independently but I’m sure that it would cost a fortune to do it that way. We went on a tour with Peregrine/Geckos. From the start everything is run by the locals. Our guide was a naturalist who was from Santa Cruz (the best island according to him) and knew every inch of the Galapagos Islands and their history. We had only 12 people on our boat which was extremely intimate and easier to see everything without having to fight off hoards of people which happens on the 250 capacity cruise liners. Depending on what type of holiday you want, I’d always go for the smaller boats – you get more for your money, even though you might not be as comfortable.

We went in September which is what the locals describe as “summer”. The weather is cool (average 22 degrees Celsius) and mostly cloudy, but no rain. The hot season (Nov – Mar) is ‘winter’ as it rains and the average temperature is around 35 degrees. I actually preferred the “summer” weather as you don’t have the beating hot sun on you at all times and are actually comfortable enough to see everything you want without wilting into the sand.

We visited the following islands:

Baltra - Las Bachas
Rabida & Puerto Egas.
Sullivan Bay & Bartolome.
Santa Cruz & Darwin Station.
Leon Dormido & San Cristobal
Espanola & Punta Suarez.
Black Turtle Cove

The only islands that are inhabited are San Cristobal and Santa Cruz and the population even then only take up a small part of each island. Both have an airport, cafes and shops but buyer beware – it’s much cheaper to buy anything on the mainland!! For example – sunscreen US$15 on Santa Cruz and US$4 in Quito. Be prepared and buy everything you need before you arrive.

Sea Lions and more...

The Galapagos Islands have two distinct seasons – summer and winter. When we were there in the summer, the plant life was like being in a desert, lots of cacti and other hardy plants that I had never heard of. These all start flowering in November. On the other hand, life was in abundance with the wildlife. It seemed to be birthing season and everywhere we went there was evidence of new life. Our group even decided to sit for 3 hours and watch a sea lion being born – trust me, it doesn’t get any better than that!!

What is most interesting about the Galapagos Islands is that majority of the plants and wildlife can’t be found anywhere else in the world as a result of being so isolated. A major example of this are the marine iguanas. No where else in the world can iguana’s swim. A pretty amazing site.

Each day we would go to a new island, each vastly different to the one before in both landscape and creatures. We would have a morning session and an afternoon session on different parts of the island and also a snorkelling session at least once a day. Examples of the animals we were able to interact with are:

Sea Lions (in abundance) – both in and out of the water
Marine Iguanas
Land Iguanas
Birds – Blue footed boobies, frigates, albatrosses etc
And many more!!

What will stay with me forever are the Sea Lions. Apart from being everywhere we went, including in the streets in the populated areas, we were able to interact with them, see the babies and the family groups, run from the huge males and best of all swim with them. Although these are wild creatures and are not allowed to touch them, they are not tame but also they are not afraid of humans and they come to you. It’s very difficult to find that sort of experience anywhere else in the world.

Unexpected Treats

There were many unexpected treats while we were touring the islands. I had my birthday while we were there and lo and behold we were all taken to a pub/nightclub to celebrate!! I certainly didn’t imagine spending my birthday that year nursing a triple vodka and doing the salsa!! You can doing anything in those islands….

The best treat of all was visiting the Galapagos Post Office. This was used by sailers in times gone by as a post office to send letters etc home. They would leave the letter there and when another ship came by that was going in the right direction, they would take it and deliver it to the right country. Hey, it might take a little while, but that’s my kind of post office!! The tradition is held today by all the tourists who pass through. You simply write a post card, don’t stamp it and leave it at the post office. While you’re there you sort through all the mail to see if there is anyone in your home town that you can take with you and deliver once home. As luck would have it, I found a postcard addressed to someone in my street. Easy!!

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Everything!! The people, towns, wildlife and flora and fauna have to be seen to be beleived
  • Cons:Sea Sickness!!
  • In a nutshell:Something for everyone - not just naturalists
  • Last visit to Galápagos Islands: Sep 2005
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (13)

Comments (13)

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Jul 10, 2012 at 2:40 AM

    Nice tips and photos. I read recently in one of our local papers, the Frankfurter Rundschau, that Lonesome George has died – without producing any progeny, of course.

  • KiKitC's Profile Photo
    Sep 16, 2009 at 3:09 AM

    I am so jealous. What an amazing trip. Thank you for helping me dream...

  • cachaseiro's Profile Photo
    May 15, 2009 at 6:54 AM

    really excellent photos from galapagos. now that is one place that is high on my wish list.

  • Marisola's Profile Photo
    Aug 4, 2008 at 6:41 AM

    Galapagos Islands! You're so cool!

  • Basaic's Profile Photo
    Apr 5, 2008 at 2:44 PM

    Very interesting tips on an off the beaten path location.

  • matt10gonzalez's Profile Photo
    Mar 2, 2008 at 5:50 PM

    Wow! The iguanas look soo cute!! Wow! I should take my mom here and let her get the screams of her life! I bet you got jet lag here when you flew here from Australia! :)

  • unaS's Profile Photo
    Feb 10, 2007 at 6:15 AM

    Marvelous tips - very helpful. Also great photos. Many thanks!

  • JessH's Profile Photo
    Jan 15, 2007 at 11:07 PM

    Hello Natalie! I really enjoyed your tips & photos... thanks for sharing your insights. My ratings are with you. Just a question: in your shopping tip is your wine from "Chilli" or rather "Chile"? haha! Warm greetings from the desert :-) Jess

  • madamx's Profile Photo
    Oct 20, 2006 at 6:54 PM

    From your page, it looks like you had an amazing time. Greetings from Calgary ~ Helen

  • aussirose's Profile Photo
    Sep 22, 2006 at 4:38 AM

    Wow!! Natalie. What a fantastic page! Just love your opening Iguana pic....sooo cute :o) And you got to see a baby seal born...Wow!! Oh and cute post office haha :o) Cheers, Ann.

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