As we got quite some helpful from this forum, thought I'd make the effort to put up a little review of our 14 nights trip to Galapagos between 2 and 16 May this year.
We decided to spend 2 of our 3 weeks in Ecuador on the Galapagos islands as to really take our time for this visit.
We spend one week 'land-based', our time divided between the islands of San Cristobal & Isabella.
In Puerto Baquerizo, San Cristobal we stayed at a basic yet OK and cheap place (30USD/double room) called Kicker Rock. Basic yet large room (suitable for 4, we stayed just the two of us), helpful lady, no English though.
- First evening there we already really enjoyed seaside area of Baquerizo, sweet little town with enough around yet much calmer then Puerto Ayora. Large sea lion colony right in town.
Food-wise you shouldn't expect culinary heaven in the Galapagos, but we enjoyed a pizza place at the square next to the sea lion colony of which I forgot the name. For some reason they had decent wine at modest prices, for Galapagos (4USD/glass).
- First day we did a two-dive trip to Leon Dormido/Kicker Rock which was actually fabulous.
Can not compare with the sites at Darwin & Wolf ofc as our budget wasn't up to actual dive cruises going up there but Leon Dormido gave us around 20-30 sharks (Galapagos, White Tip & 3 Hammerheads), same number of turtles, sea lions, an Eagly Ray & plenty of other fish in two dives... A rather expensive dive trip at 140USD, equipment, lunch & an additional beach stop with snorkelling included, but absolutely worth it.
- Next day we hired bicycles and got a cab who dropped us at Laguna El Junco from where we biked down the Galapaguera de Cerro Colorada turtle center (not bad, but the one on Isabella was better) and further down to the beach of Puerto Chino (nice beach yet nothing spectacular and not uncrowded - not so much wildlife there), biking back having some beers in the village of El Progresso. Very enjoyable trip all in all, more for the feel of biking on a Galapagos island & meeting some pretty fun locals rather then a absolute highlight.
- Third day visited the good interpretation center, with a walk up and down to Frigate Hill (down which we enjoyed a really pleasant snorkel in a little bay, saw some lazy turtles and played with the sea lions present). And took a cab to the beach with sea lions, lots of finches and some really big Marine Iguanas behind the airport.
All in all we were happy to have chosen San Cristobal over Santa Cruz and enjoyed our time out of the pleasant town of Baquerizo.
Then a too long journey of all in all 5 hours (2 ferries) over Puerto Ayora to Isabella.
= the only disadvantage of combining San Cristobal with Isabella.
Didn't plan any accomodation on Isabella (nor did we for Puerto Baquerizo for that matter = absolutely unnecessary in this period apparently) we met this, again very helpful, guy of the Cerro Azul guesthouse. Spotless room with balcony facing a quiet street, little garden to have breakfast equipped with some hammocks, approx (5-10 mins walk to the beach) for 40USD/night for a double. We thought this was a fine deal...again in Galapagos terms ofc.
We really enjoyed Isabella! Villamil is...a village really. Enough restaurants & guesthouses to cater the tourists but not much else. The beach, albeit large & direct in town, is nice but not magnificent but....all the little beaches and coves we spend time on walking back from the Wall of Tears...were fabulous! Here thus the first tip: get a cab to Wall of Tears and walk back.
Sweet outing! Giant turtles on the way there, wild ones. Some good view points. An beautiful little beaches, lots of Marine Iguanas on some, sea lions (deuuuh) & made my best pinguin pictures on one of them. Last few kilometers you walk the large beach with pelicans, other seabirds and smaller marine iguanas back to Villamil.
In town, plenty of agencies organizing trips. We took 2:
An almost full day trip to the Sierra Negra volcano. A decent 5-6 hours walking trip up the volcano and, even more spectacular, a smaller volcano (Chico) from where you can see the whole of Isabella island and Fernandina. A nice trip, however the group is quite large and the rhythym kept high. Best thing to do: :-) ignore the group and go your own pace, the trail is very obvious and our guide at least was too busy to wait...perfect! (35USD/person)
Next day took the trip to Los Tuneles. Saw some large rays on the way there. Marine turtles and boobies at the site. And snorkelled with a couple of White Tips. A very pleasant outing yet again. (75USD/person)
TO BE CONTINUED