Galapagos Islands Travel Blog

Welcome to the Galapagos Islands Travel Blog. We provide unbiased opinions on the best travel ideas, sales, specials across all islands. If you want to arrange a private tour contact 201-688-7170

Friday, November 23, 2012

Española Island

A rocky shoreline and rising swells await your landing at Punta Suarez on Isla Española in the far southeast of the archipelago. One of the smallest of the “large” islands (23 square miles), Española offers a coule of visitor sights and various special treats. Immediately upon landing, you can walk among sea-lion colonies to get close up photos of these adorable creatures. From here a short trail leads through colonies of lue footed and masked boobies. There is no need to stray off the trail here, you may actually have to be careful not to step on them along the way! An assortment of dancing couples in courtship highlights the walk.

Colonies of marine iguanas also line the path and are about as immobile as the rocks they rest upon. And don’t worry if a tiny black Galapagos snake crosses your path and are about as immobile as the rocks they rest upon. And don’t worry if a tiny black Galapagos snake crosses your path – its not dangerous. A highlight toward the end of the trail is the colony of giant waved albatross. This is the only nesting place for this species; they arrive from their travels from March through December. Keep walking, at the edge of the sea cliff are spectacular views of the ocean, the rocky shoreline, and a giant blowhole that sprays water neary 100 feet into the air.

Travel to the northeast side of the island is Gardner Bay, where a white sand beach and plenty of good swimming await. An offshore rock provides a great snorkeling opportunity. Española Island offers tourist no modern facilities and is accessible only as part of a prearranged tour. Reaching Española Island requires a long overseas passage, so the shorter tours with smaller boats are less likely to visit here.

Keep reading the other posts on our Galapagos Travel blog for more on the Enchanted Islands.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Floreana Island Galapagos

Most Galapagos travel agencies spend time checking out the wildlife near shore on a panga boat ride. Expect to find sea lion colonies, lava gulls, and pelicans. At Punta Cormorant there is an olive green beach with a short trail that leads across a narrow section of the island. Along this trail is a small brackish lagoon where bright pink flamingos and other lagoon feeders dwell. Sometimes there are dozens of flamingos here, but even if the flock is away there is still a good chance o witnessing a lone individual or two. Flamingos are very shy and nervous animals, so this is a good place to use your zoom lens.  At the end of the trail is a white sand beach divided by black lava rocks.

Here you’ll find colorful Sally Lightfoot crabs dancing about and stingrays swimming in the shallows. It’s a great place to swim, but watch your step near shore. Shuffle and slide your feet through the sand to avoid stepping on a stingray. A panga ride from Punta Cormorant offers a special treat in the form of the Devil’s Crown. This volcanic plug that pokes out of the water just offshore is a great place to see nesting and resting shorebirds.

It is also one of the Galapagos best snorkeling areas. The crater offers a small coral formation and numerous species of bright tropical fish, including the blue parrotfish, various triggerfish, and the pufferfish. For an extra special rush, follow your guide’s lead and look for sharks. You may be fortunate enough to spot the awesome hammerhead and white tipped reef shark in one swim. Floreana Island has a few modern facilities and is accessible as part of most tours, particularly the shorter ones. There are a few places to stay near Black Beach on the western side of the island.

Keep reading the rest of the Galapagos Islands Travel blog to learn about the other magical islands !

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Isabela Island

Isabela is a monster compared to the other Galapagos Islands. At 1,771 square miles, it makes up nearly three-fifths of the archipelago’s landmass. Connected by five relatively young volcanoes, two of which are sometimes active, Isabela’s sheer size makes it difficult to travel around and visit within the time frame of most tours, especially since the main sights are on the island’s far west side. Few standard tours undertow weeks in length visit Isabela, unless they skip the other major islands.

One of Isabela’s main attractions is at Urbina Bay, about midway up the island’s west coast. This uplifted plateau was underwater until 1954, as evidenced by embedded coral and other marine life. The area provides a good opportunity to see large marine iguanas, pelicans, flightless cormorants, sea turtles, and some of the few remaining mangrove finches.

The impressive Volcan Alcedo, 4,144 feet high is visible from here. If you have the time, do an overnight hike to the rim of the caldera. It offers active fumaroles and a spectacular view, and is the best place in the Galapagos to witness giant tortoises at home. Other overnight hikes include Volcan Cerro Azul and Volcan Negra (Santo Tomas). All of these hikes require permits and a willingness to rough it. Inquire well in advance at the National Park office in Puerto Ayora. Nearby is Tagus Cove, where early sailors often anchored. Look closely and you may spot their graffiti scratched into the side of cliffs, as well as possibly the Galapagos penguin and flightless cormorant.

Tagus Cove

South of Urbina Bay is Elizabeth Bay where there is no place to dock and farther west is Punta Moreno. A dry landing is available, as well as a rough trail over lava flows and among brackish pools. Wildlife here is less abundant and diverse than on other islands that have been around longer.

Nevertheless, pioneering species are evident, as well as penguins and other shore birds. The main town is Puerto Villamil, along the south coast of the island, and inhabited by a few thousand people, with the smaller village of Santo Tomas inland from here. You can arrange travel to the interior of the island from Villamil.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Santa Cruz Island

Chances are that your tour will begin here. A ferry from Isla Baltra provides transportation to the north side of Santa Cruz, land land transportation will continue to Puerto Ayora, where cruise vessels are docked.

Unfortunately, Santa Cruz Island is in grave danger as a result of continued development and travel. In fact, it has the largest population of all the Galapagos Islands, with over half of the archipelago’s 20,000+ inhabitants. Its future will depend on a recent moratorium on immigration to the islands and effective regulation of agricultural expansion as well as other indirect impacts of tourism.

Puerto Ayora, the main town and focal point for tourism, lies on the south side of the island. Within walking distance is the Charles Darwin Research Station. Most travel tours stop by the station at some point during their visit. The walk from town to the research station passes through a unique “forest” of manzanilla, saltbush, and various cacti. Insect, which are relatively under represented on the islands compared to the mainland, abound in various shapes and sizes. Birders will enjoy Darwin’s finches, fly catchers, and Galapagos mockingbirds.

The research station is important for understanding the magic of the Galapagos Islands and its struggle to survive. At the main travel center are numerous exhibits that describe the archipelago’s natural history, geology, historical issues, and conservation efforts. Slide shows are also presented here in serval different languages.

Farther along the main walkway is the tortoise conservation and rearing center. Learn about the natural history of the remaining endemic subspecies, as well as other ongoing projects. In addition, you can visit the center’s tortoise incubation and repartriation facilities, where repopulating efforts continue at full speed.

There are several small beaches nearby that are great for relaxing. Back in town, the ocean front street is a good place to pick up a souvenir or relax with a drink and a sunset view of the Academy Bay. Prices here are a bit higher than on the mainland. Don’t expect at the last minute to find an inexpensive, disposable underwater camera. They cost up to $25 here, compared to $15 in Quito. While you are lounging about near the shoreline, the wildlife – including marine iguanas, pelicans, and other shorebirds – may join you. Pangas, the little rubber motorboats, wait as water taxis at the pier to transport passengers between the island and their boats. Arrange to have a crew member pick you up, or take a water taxi for just over $1.

Recommended link: Travel and Tourism Directory

Friday, March 2, 2012

Enchanted Islands

To speak of the Enchanted Islands is to be filled with the magic and nostalgia of all time and to see the archipelago from the air is to visualize this as the place where creation began and where it will end. The sea is not the same shade as the Carribbean, this is a mixture of places in different colors where the seals and their families are seen basking in the turquoise waters, and where the depth is made quite apparent by the intense shade of blue. To see the volcanoes which have literally given rise to these very different islands, some strikingly large and others decidely small, places where visitors can dream of spending a day, a year or even indefinitely observing the species which only exist here and which are usually only seen on a documentary or film on evolution. Green hillocks emerge from the sea as if intending to reach the sky in what is a unique place on the planet, only 1,050 kilometers from the Equator and discovered purely by accident in 1535 by Fray Tomas de Berlanga, the first person to set foot on the island when the ship in which he was traveling from Panama was dragged to the islands by the strong sea currents.

The first pirates were known to be aware of the islands by 1684, the time when Ambrose Cowley showed a distant place on the sea charts, a place where the tortoises were enormous and where there even existed animals from prehistoric times.

One significant factor equally indicated by the pirates as Fray Tomas de Berlanga is how tame were the animals which inhabited the islands. For many years the islands were used by the pirates as a place to rest, somewhere to bring and share out the treasure taken from the boats they had attacked, a place to carry out repairs on their boats and to stock up on food by taking the tortoises on board for a supply of fresh meat.

Conservationists say the islands haveactually lost numerous species due to human depradation during the 17th and 18th centuries. Officially the Archipelago de Colon, the islands also came to receive the name of the Galapagos Islands in honour of the gigantic tortoises which have lived here for millions of years.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Santiago Island

Santiago Island is one of the places most frequently visited by volcanologists with its many different craters created by inverted lava flows incorporating a great variety of the island´s species: iguanas, seals, flamingos, red crabs and fur seals.

One impressive sight is the beach surrounded by lava cones in James Bay where the black sand contrasts with the green seaweed which serves as food for the species. There´s also a salt mine and Sullivan Bay is one of the places to appreciate the most recent eruptions, over the last hundred years, and also the place where its possible to walk over lava flows still with vents for the gases to escape from the volcano.

Don't leave the Galapagos without traveling to Santiago Island !

Monday, February 27, 2012

Baltra Islands

Baltra Island, only 100 meters above sea level and a surface area of 27 square kilometers, this little corner of the archipelago is the first place visitors come into contact with the islands, since here the airport is to be found, built in 1942 by the United States Navy when they were controlling the boats passing through the Panama Canal. With a temperature above 28 degrees at times, this place has a desert like landscape with flora typical of arid zones and brightly colored cacti typical of the volcanic landscape since these are to be found between the rocks which supported the lava found.

Travelers coming to the Galapagos for snorkeling, scuba diving and deep sea diving practice around the island which is separated from the Santa Cruz by a channel. On a trip through the transparent waters the first travel companions are the seals and varioua birds, including chaffinches, all of which are likely to be seen during the fifteen minutes it takes to arrive at Santa Cruz, 900 square kilometers and the most highly populated of the islands.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Enchanted Islands

Travel to the Galapagos 

The enchanted islands as they are commonly known, attract thousands of tourists each year wishing to visit the place for first hand knowledge on the theory of evolution by the natural selection of the species. These visits consist of guided travel tours lasting a few days and with strict control on admission to avoid the endemic species. Some of the places do not allow access to anyone from the boats.

The most curious thing about this place is that visitors can move freely amongst the seals, iguanas,tortoises.... None of which are frightened by human presence, although it has to be said that neither is anyone allowed to lay a hand on any species.

Strict safety and travel regulations have been imposed since 1978 when the archipelago became listed as one of the Unesco World Heritage Sites. Actually the jewel of Ecuador and even though other countries have threatened to take possession, the Galapagos Islands have remained the very point of reference for this country which just so happens to be right in the middle of the world.

This blog is perfect for those of you traveling soon to the Galapagos Islands. My blog has many resources about anything you can think of when considering a trip to the Galapagos.