We have 2 weeks in the Galapagos Islands in where we will stay on the 3 main islands. San Cristobal, Isabela and Santa Cruz. We opted for land based accommodation with day trips from each island. The other option was island hopping on boats. This was considerable more expensive and also I didn't like the thought of the 5 of us cooped up on a boat for the entire time, plus this stretch of water is notoriously rough. By booking independent accommodation and day trips we turned our budgeted trip here from 6 days into 14.
We are staying right on the Malecon (promenade) on the island. Its another stay where we are in 2 rooms as we have been for the majority of the trip thus far. It's always difficult to fit 5 in a room so invariably we book two rooms and split the kids with one adult.
The views from our rooms are breath-taking. Its like having a room in a zoo. Sea Lions, Pelican's, Iguanas and Turtles all play and live right in front of us. We could happily sit in our rooms peering out the windows for hours watching them all. Although we know that the wildlife here feels no threat by humans it still takes you by surprise as the sea lions and iguanas happily come up to you. It feels like they are more inquisitive of us than we are of them sometimes.
The view out our window
Blue Footed Boobies
We have had only one trip organised on this island. A day trip out to Kicker Rock. This was deep sea snorkelling at it's best a massive rock in the middle of the ocean with a shear face right down to the ocean floor. The main purpose of this trip is to snorkel with the Hammerhead sharks. However as it is sometimes with nature we didn't get to have that experience. They were about but just not in sight for us. Our guide Jorge (pronounced Horhay) caught a glimpse but they were to deep for us to see. He later told us they see them about 20% of the time. We did however see huge Turtles swimming around. They were magnificent to watch as they moved so gracefully through the water.
I'll (Rach) admit my nervousness that this was our first snorkelling experience straight off the boat into the coolish very deep water. I was worried the kids might panic - especially Bellie. Proven wrong though when she jumped in and sped off. At the brief Jorge mentioned we will have to keep pace with the kids(our lot) but after 10 mins in the water he said "man the kids are good!" Some of the other adults on the boat had to snorkel holding a life preserver!
The following two days we had no excursions booked. It was the first time since we left NZ that we had free time.
I went my first run since the Inca marathon and sussed out the best snorkelling spot early in the morning.
Early that afternoon we went to Cerro de las Tijeretas a 2km walk from the town. It is the spot where Charles Darwin first set foot on the Galapagos Islands. We proably looked pretty hard case trundling along with our big wheelie duffle bag full of our snorkelling gear. A lot to lug around but we hadn't wanted to risk especially the kids getting ill fitting gear. Much to our delight there were 3 or 4 sea lion pubs playing with us which was amazing. They happily interacted with you doing barrel rolls and coming up really close. They would nibble at your flippers and kiss your mask! Although the water wasn't that warm it was easy to spend an hour in the water with them. We had a lot of fun diving down and having them follow us zipping past us and showing off. Funny though at the end of the day when we decide to hop out. A family of around six sea lions were lying all over the steps and landing barricading our way out! Patience prevailed and about 15 minutes later we made it out. Sea Lions are only territorial out of the water which is funny and they protect their patch rather like a dog. The big ones have fierce teeth too which none of us were keen to mess with. On our snorkel trip the day before we had learnt the difference between seals and sea lions - sea lions have external ears seals just have holes. So there you go!
Our snorkelling spot - Cerro de las Tijeretas
Bellie chillaxing with the Iguanas
Smile for the camera
Being held captive - might as well enjoy it
We also hired some paddle boards to have a play in the harbour. The plan was to snorkel from them with the seal pubs and turtles. However after 20mins of being blown out to sea we made a dash to a small beach at Playa Mann and sort refuge there. Holly, Toby and me (Matt) spent some time snorkelling before we decided to walk to boards back to the shop. We figured walking the 1km back with them was safer than risking the paddle. Another crazy moment with lots of sideways looks as we wandered through town carrying paddleboards paddles and life jackets.
Hello Mr Iguana
That afternoon we headed back to the same spot as the previous day to snorkel and had another awesome experience
We also went through the Interpretation Centre which displays the history of the Galapagos Islands and also highlights the difficulties they have with natural resources.
A stunning pic of aqua boy
Our last night on San Cristobal was spent with Tim and Crystal who own Galakiwi a travel company based on the island. Tim's a Kiwi who started his company 15 years ago here and with lots of hard work from both of them they have buit an awesome business. We had a few drinks and then they took us to a local restaurant for dinner. It was great to spend some time with some other adults and try some of their favourite dishes.
Our time on San Cristobal has been perfect. A lovely quaint town with nature right on your door step. We left SC after 4 days a bit sad we couldn't stay longer. Next stop is Isabela Island which is a 45 min flight away.