Saturday 9th June
flight leaves Quito at 9:30 arrives at 11:50 (1 hour difference) running late arrived at 12:10
Transfer from Baltra airport - bus to ferry, ferry to Santa Cruz Island only 10 mins, then transport to Hotel Villa Laguna in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz which takes about 45 mins. Hotel is very nice with ensuite, Wifi, Hot water, A/C, huge bed, balcony and a swimming pool. Complete luxury compared to what we have be used to over the last few weeks.
Once we drop off our luggage the guide takes us to Visit Charles Darwin Station, to see Giant Tortoises and hear about the research that scientists are completing to make continue the breeding programme for endangered species on the Islands.
Lunch at The Rock - Starter, main course, pudding and a drink.
Then back to the Hotel for a swim in the pool. The weather is very warm and sunny.
Dinner at Il Giardino - starter, main course, pudding and drink
Both of these restaurants, we are lead to believe, are the best on the island. The cost of the meals is all in the package that we have paid for. This also includes day trips everyday to various Islands and Andy's diving.
Sunday 10th June
After a good buffet breakfast in the hotel we are picked up for a full day tour to North Seymour Island and Bachas Beach on board Nartel Yatch. Whislt waiting for the boat we spotted a group of 7 Golden Rays just swimming round the dock. Good start to the day. Once we arrived at the Island we take a walk around with the group and our guide points out any interesting wildlife. We see Blue Footed Boobie Birds nesting, Frigate birds showing off their red inflated chests and unique Galapagos nocturnal Gulls with red eyes. We also see Marine Igannos, which are black so they can soak up the energy from the sun and the rocks. All of these creatures are not concerned about our presence and some even seem to pose for photos.
Lunch is aboard the boat and consists of chicken fried rice, salad and fresh fruit.
Once we have digested lunch we are taken to Bachas Beach for snorkelling. The visibility was not good and the quite wavy so I was nervous, so Andy went and did his thing while I enjoyed a swim. The Beach is beautiful with white sand, black volcanic rocks and turquoise blue sea.
Back to the hotel about 4.30, just in time for a swim in the pool.
Dinner tonight at The Rock
After dinner we wander along Finch Pier and watch the fish feeding in the shallow water. Along side them are Golden Rays, baby reef sharks, sea lions and pelicans fishing.
Monday 11th June
Today was an early start for us both, Andy is diving at Floreana Island. He has to be at the dive centre for 7.15am. I am picked up at 6am for a Full day tour by yacht to Bartholomew Island and snorkelling on Santiago.
I have an hours bus journey before transferring to the boat, the journey takes a further 2 hours to get to Bartholomew. It is a very dry, rugged and arid island. Where we trek up a volcano to look at the lava flows and learn the history of the Islands. The view from the top is astounding and we can see an underwater crater in a perfect circle. We see Lava Cactus and sea lions.
Lunch on board the boat and then snorkelling with penguins and sea lions.
Back to the hotel at 5.30pm - a very long day but well worth it.
Tuesday 12th June
Wendy's day a full day tour on Galapagos Deep yacht to Floreana Island and then snorkelling. This was a very fast boat with 3 huge engines that skimmed over the waves, but was very bumpy. It took 2 hours to get to the Island and there were several people feeling sea sick. This was the first Island to be inhabited but now only has a population of 120, with 40 of those being children. Here we saw Giant tortoises, lava caves and learnt about some folklore of the island. It is a very green and lush island. It is the oldest island and one of only 2 which has a natural fresh water supply. We saw sea lions relaxing in the sun. Lunch at a restaurant not far from the dock.
Snorkelling in the afternoon we saw sea lions and penguins playing under the water. On the journey back I sat up top with the captain which gave me the opportunity to see a Manta Ray surface and a school of about 30 dolphins swimming by.
Diving day tour to Gordon Rocks (Andrew) Hammer Heads and a Mola Mola (Sun Fish) which are very rare.
Dinner at The Rock
Wednesday 13th June
Todays trip was only half a day, just the two of us and our guide to visit Santa Cruz Highlands including Primicias Ranch and Lava Tunnels. On the way we visited a beach called Garrapatero Beach, this beach has been semi destroyed by waves from the Japanese Tsunami, most of the sand had been swept away along with cactus. The town were we are staying had also been underwater for several days due to the Tsunami too.
Lunch at a very nice restaurant in the Highlands.
In the afternoon we visited a local beach called Tortuga (Turtle). It was about a 45 minutes walk to get there along a very well prepared walkway. The beach has beautiful white sand, one part has strong currents and large waves. Then just round the corner there is a more sheltered beach which looks like a lake, no waves and very shallow. You could walk about for ages before having to swim. There were also lots of mangrove trees.
Dinner at Il Gardinio
Thursday 14th June
Full day tour to Plazas Island & Carrion Point for both of us today. Plaza Ilsadn is only an hours boat ride away, it is small but on our walk round we were able to see lots of nesting birds, sea lions and hybrid Iguanas.
Lunch on board the boat.
Snorkelling around carrion point we saw a White Tip Reef shark and sea lions playing underwater. It was nice to be together to experience these things together.
Tonight before dinner we walked along the sea front and did some window shopping. We stopped at the fish market and watched the fishermen fillet the days catch amidst pelicans and sea lions all vying for any scraps that were accidentally dropped. It was like watching a circus act and it was hard to remember that the animals were all wild.
Dinner at The Rock
Friday 15th June
Wendy a Full day tour by yacht to Santa Fe Island, only a hour away. We landed on a very secluded white sand beach amongst sleeping sea lions. I also saw a Galapagos Hawk, a mocking bird (which is quite rare on the islands) and lots of land iguanas. I also had a chance to snorkel in very clear fairly shallow water with the sea lions, they are very inquisitive and love to play under the water. I also saw three turtles at a regular cleaning station. On the way back to the boat I swam with an eagle ray - this was a very special afternoon for me.
Andy had a fantastic day diving to Mosquera Island.
Dinner at Il Gardino. After dinner we walked along the Pier again and saw 6 baby Black tip reef sharks. We will be sad to leave it has been very special here with a wide variety of wildlife and amazing islands and views. It has lived up to all expectations and more.
Saturday 16th June
Transfer out to the airport for flight back to Quito. Arrived in Quito at 2.30 just as the heavens opened and the lightening flashed. The streets were flooded and soon became streams. The rain turned to hail stones at one point. It didn't take long to dry up though. Checked into Travellers Inn for the third time.
Ate at a Chinese tonight.
Sunday 17th June
Lazy start to the day, good breakfast and then a wander to the supermarket for provisions. Contacted family back home to catch up.
Hannah & Mark arrived in Quito from London at 14:35. Their plane flew over the top of out taxi on the way in. Quito's airport is a very tight landing as it is in the centre of the city, which is surrounded by mountains and volcanoes on all sides. No room for error and a very quick descent.
It was great to see Hannah and Mark and does not seem like 3 months since we saw them last.
Again the heavens opened although not as bad as yesterday. Back to the hotel for a catch up over several cups of tea - how very English of us.
Dinner at a local restaurant and then to bed.
Monday 18th June
Lazy start to the day to let the kids catch up on their sleep and acclimatize to the altitude and the time zone. After breakfast we caught a taxi to Parque Itchimbia, which has a nearly 360 panoramic view of the city. From there we walked to the old town. We climbed up the bell tower of the Bascillica. We also walked across a rickety wooden platform between the towers - luckily it is inside and so you can't see the drop below you. The views from the top were stunning, especially as it was a warm sunny day. The guide book says that this is a deathly view of the city, I can see why, certainly very little health and safety here.
Lunch at a market stall and then a further wander round the streets. We saw the Presidential building with it's guard of honour. There are some very pretty plazas and squares.
Dinner at the local kebab restaurant and then to bed.
Tuesday 19th June
Another lazy start to the day. Breakfast and then a wander to the hotel where we have to meet up with the rest of the group for the tour which we start on Wednesday. Lunch and then back to the hotel to watch the England Vs Ukraine Euro match, which England won by fluke by 1 goal.
This evening we attended the briefing for the tour and went for dinner.
Wednesday 20th June
Today we join a 53 day tour with Oasis Overland.