The Galápagos Islands 2021 – Part III – Isabela

Yay, we saw a penguin! Actually we saw 4. Not looking too dissimilar to a duck in all honesty, and too far away to get a good photo, but I am confident we will have other opportunities. We made it to Isabela, the largest of the Galápagos Islands, and it straddles the equator. Puerto Villamil is south of the equator, but the same breed of penguin also inhabits the north of the island, and are the only wild and free penguins to be found in the entire northern hemisphere.

We saw them as we reached the harbour, and were a very welcome sight after another 2 hour boat ride in rough seas, which saw a few passengers fall victim to mal-de-mer, including one young man who was the most nervous traveller I have ever seen, throwing his hands up in the air and covering his head with every large wave we hit. Every single one. We hit many big waves. On this occasion I am very happy to report Carol was fine 😊 The 50 centavos she had spent on a packet of anti-seasickness tablets appears to be money well spent.

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The Galápagos Islands 2021 – Part II – Santa Cruz

We left our home with the Ruiz family in San Cristóbal at 6.30am when a taxi they had kindly arranged for us came and took us to the ferry port. The fare of $1. 50 was excellent value and saved us from carrying our bags for too far. A 2-hour ferry trip to Santa Cruz followed. We had been advised that the early morning crossings were on much calmer waters than the late afternoon ones, and that may well be true, but it doesn’t mean Carol enjoyed the trip any. The seats were plastic and hard and the trip was bumpy and rocky. Gratefully on terra firma we attempted to find our Airbnb for the next 10 days.

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The Galápagos Islands 2021 – Part I – San Cristóbal

At San Cristobal ferry terminal we were met by Lelanes, the 18 year old daughter of our host family. The walk from the ferry to our accommodation is one we have done several times since, is only about 800 metres and takes between 5 minutes and half an hour depending on how long we stop to look at the local wildlife, but on this occasion, fully loaded, we were grateful Lelanes hailed a taxi to get us ‘home’ and she also paid the $2 fare. We unpacked, settled in and started talking about how we would get the most out of our time here.

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Travelling to the Galápagos Islands – April 2021

Some of you may have previously looked into travelling to the Galápagos Islands, and found the cost to be quite prohibitive. This is because the most commonly offered packaged trip is a cruise. A very convenient one-stop shop option for planning purposes, but also very expensive. Apart from not having £10,000 to spend on a two week holiday, Carol also gets very seasick, so for those very good reasons, cruising is not an option for us. We currently have less money, and more time, so our plan is to spend a month here, staying 10 days on each of the 3 main inhabited islands. Our trip will be largely land based, with over-water travel restricted to ferries between the islands and the occasional boat tour for exceptional trips such as the opportunity to swim with hammerhead sharks. As always, we aim to get value for money and whilst doing this trip as inexpensively as possible, we are hoping this does not detract from our wildlife experience. Like most other people, we’re here to see the animals.

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Costa Rica 2021 – San Jose

We ended up having 3 separate stays in San José, at the beginning, in the middle during Santa Semana, and at the end just before going to the airport for our next destination. It seems only right therefore that we include San Jose in our blog posts. On our gap year travels this turned out to be the first country we had visited that was part of our original plans. We arrived with high hopes of seeing things we had never seen before. In that time we saw much of the capital, which included both highlights and low-lifes.

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Costa Rica 2021 – Drake Bay & Corcovado

This was the last proper stop on our epic two month Costa Rica tour and we hoped it would be one of the best…we still had a couple animals to tick off our ‘must see’ list we had mentally made but would we get to see them here?  We had big hopes for this little peninsula after speaking with others and reading reviews but would it live up to our expectations?

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Costa Rica 2021 – Uvita

Uvita was one of my favourite towns we visited in Costa Rica. Was it the location? In the middle of Quepos and Sierpe, the places we had visited previously and had next on our plans, and situated less than an hour from each. Was is the beautiful beaches, and very interesting places where we went into tunnels as the tide came in, and with it a very powerful display of the strengtrh of the inrushing water? Was it because Carol and I had our first attempt at body boarding, having great fun in the process? Maybe it was the proximity to local attractions such as Reptilandia, Nauyaca Waterfalls, Uvita waterfall and the local ‘swimming hole’. Perhaps it was our unusual accommodation and crazy but lovely host ‘French Greg’ or perhaps it was due to meeting again up with our Canadian friends we had first met in Cahuita, and sharing some of these experiences with them, and of course visiting their fantastic property high up in the toucan-filled mountains. Of course we loved it because of all these factors, and we leave Uvita behind with nothing but happy memories of our time there.

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Costa Rica 2021 – Quepos & Manuel Antonio

After our rather hot and sweaty 41 degree bus ride to Samara we decided that enough was enough, we had gone 7 weeks travelling by public transport and private transfers but we caved and got a car for our final two weeks. Nothing spectacular, a basic Suzuki Swift but for us this was a luxury and meant not carrying those bags or relying on unpredictable public transport. An online reservation with Alamo and a collection on the morning of departure and away we headed to Quepos.

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Costa Rica 2021 – Samara

We had spent quite a significant amount of time on the Caribbean coast around Cahuita and in Tortuguero and as time was on our side and we had heard great things about the Pacific side of the country, we decided to pay a visit and see what all the fuss was about. We had been warned it was significantly hotter on the Pacific coast but that it was many people’s favourite area to visit due to the great beaches.

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Costa Rica 2021 – Monteverde

The first thing that comes to mind about Monteverde, is that the climate is very different to the other places we stayed at in Costa Rica. The name translates to Green Mountain, and at an elevation of 1330 metres, just 15 metres lower than the summit of Ben Nevis, the highest point in the whole of the UK, it was unsurprisingly very windy every evening, and generally a lot cooler and wetter than our previous experiences in the country.

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