Gone to a place that is unknown to many...

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My Galapagos trip - 2014

A year ago, I decided to grab an opportunity to take a week-long solo trip to the Galapagos Islands. It was something I have always wanted to do since the age of eleven. The Galapagos Islands inspired Charles Darwin to form his theory of evolution. I had an option to take a cruise tour, but I elected to book a custom land tour with Galapagos Alternative instead. The land-based tour allowed me to meet the locals, experience the culture, and support local businesses. The idea of seeing Galapagos tortoises, blue-footed boobies, frigate birds, and many wildlife animals lured me to book a flight to South America and visit the continent for the first time in my life.

After two-night stay in Quito and arriving in Santa Cruz Island, my first stop was the Charles Darwin Research Station in the Galapagos National Park. I got to see 100+ years old Galapagos tortoises and was amazed by their sizes. At one point, the population of Galapagos tortoises was 250,000 in the 16th century but decreased to 3,000 in the 1970s. The sharp decrease in the population happened due to human activities and introduction of non-native animals to the islands. The current number of the tortoises is estimated to be around 25,000. Upon the conclusion of my visit to the research station, I went to a local restaurant in Puerto Ayora for a Galapagos lobster dinner. After dinner, I took a walk around the downtown. I was surprised to see several sea lions sleeping everywhere in the public benches. It was a great ending to my first day in the Galapagos Islands

For the next two days, I took two separate guided day tours to the uninhabitated islands of North Seymour and Bartolome. The activities and highlights of these two islands involved sightseeing birds such as blue-footed boobies, frigate birds, and Galapagos hawks, and climbing to the summit to see the Pinnacle Rock.

During my last day in Santa Cruz Island, my tour guide took me to visit the twin craters of Los Gemelos, see the Galapagos tortoises freely roaming around, and cross through lava tunnels. I spent my last night in Santa Cruz by camping outside in the middle of nowhere under the amazing sights of stars.

After the stay in Santa Cruz Island, I took a public speedboat to Isabela, the largest island in the Galapagos. My exciting activities in the island in the Galapagos included visiting the iguanas colony, viewing the Galapagos penguins on the rocks, hiking around the Sierra Negra Volcano, taking a lava tunnels boat tour, and snorkeling with sea turtles.

On the Sierra Negra Volcano tour, my group and I hiked to the rim of the six mile crater, and then trekked across an alien landscape of lava fields to Volcan Chico. The lava tunnels boat tour took us to Los Tuneles, a network of lava tunnels, and provided opportunities for us to trek across natural lava tunnels and bridges and to snorkel with sea turtles.

My Galapagos trip had come to an end. As I returned to the United States via two hours on a public speedboat, one hour in taxi, and two hours flight from the Galapagos to the mainland Ecuador, I made a promise that I will return to the Galapagos for more fun-filled adventures!