Galapagos discoveryOctober 17 2017
The Galapagos Island - unique with their endemic wildlife, the inspiration for Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution.
Join me on my travels through this unique land!Read background
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After another 2h 45m you finally made it to Galapagos, Baltra airport.
There is only one run-way and no taxi way, but there aren't too many flights anyway. Once you get to the terminal, you get your National Park permit (100USD) and get your carry on bags checked for food, just in case. Just a short stroll away is the Baggage Claim. There aren't any conveyor belts, just tables with rolls that the workers use to push your luggage onto. Once everyone's luggage is there and the official gives a sign, everyone storms forward and grabs their luggage. As if the island is going to errode while you wait.
You're getting out of the airport and depending on your style of travel, either get herded towards one of the tour busses or the public one. I was traveling idependend so it's public bus. Once it's full (read: very full, no standing room) you start your 10 min drive along the winding road. You cross lava plains, see lots of cactus and you get the first glimps on why Darwin called at least parts of the islands desolate.
You arrive at the little channel that seperates Baltra and Santa Cruz island, unload from the bus and get on the ferry. The luggage goes on top and you inside (not that there are windows). The fare is $1 and the ride takes 5 min.
On the other side you choose your next mode of transport. The public bus (I think around $4) takes you to town or you take one of the taxis. Taxis here are white pick up trucks. I was a bit constrained for time so I choose the taxi ($25) to make it to my ferry to go to Isla Isabela.
The road to Puerto Ayora is fairly smooth and most traffic is from the taxis and busses coming from the airport pick up.
Congratulations, you made it in time to get a ticket for the ferry to Isabela. The ferries are speedboats aka little yacht type runabouts with 3 x 200hp susukys in the back. The return fare is $55.
Get to the port 30 min before your departure (there is a 2pm boat and I think one in the early morning), get your bags checked and sealed again (inter island transport of fruit and vegetable is prohibited) and registered for the transport. There are Navy officials present at all times and make sure the lists are handled correctly.
The speedboats don't land at the pier, you have to take a little panga water taxi. Luggage goes in the front, passangers in the back, the fare is 50ct.
When you get to the speedboat, choose your seat. I heard the front can be with little air, the back is most stable but noisy. Also, take a wind/rain jacket, it can be cold and windy on the ocean.
The ride takes about 2 - 2 1/2 hours and can be bumpy at times.
Also remember, Not throw trash the sea
Nobody said the Galapagos are easy to get to.
There might have been easier ways, but this was my journey:
Fly from San Francisco to El Salvador leaving at 1.30am and arriving at 8.30am. Spend a lot of time at the airport. Wait for the 2pm whirlwind tour of the beachside.
Get past the queue at the immigration because you're a VIP guest of the government, get out of the airport into the tropical heat. Get in a car and drive to the beach while learning a little about El Salvador. Then drive to the fishing pier where they lift the little pangas right out of the water onto the pier with a crane. Grab some food and then head back to the airport just in time for an epic sunset.
Jump on the next plane that takes you to Guayaquil, your port of entry to Ecuador. Ignore the advice of the check-in person in SFO that told you your luggage will go straight to Galapagos. Because your luggage is actually on the belt and you better pick it up, go through immigration and customs and then find out that your airport hotel pickup isn't there.
Get a cab for 5USD (yes, Ecuador, like El Salvador is only using USD) to get to the hotel where they are in disbelief that you actually arrived at 1.30am (like you told them in the booking form). That shower will feel great!
At 6.30am, get in the next cab, back to the airport, find out where you have to get your bag inspected for any goods prohibited in Galapagos, then check in.
A long time coming - finally I'm on the way to the Galapagos.
Ever since meeting HARRIET, the Galapagos Tortoise that lived at the Australia Zoo, some ten years ago, I wanted to go and see this archipelago.
The wait is over, I'm on my way!