Guayaquil, Ecuador. Where to visit on a stopover.

You can’t fly directly to the Galápagos Islands but have a choice of 2 cities in Ecuador which will get you there on an internal flight, Guayaquil and Quito. Even if you choose Quito, your plane will still stop in Guayaquil on its way. We chose Guayaquil (pronounced wirekeel) for a couple of reasons; the first being that flights were slightly cheaper and the second because at the time of our visit there were reports of hospital overcrowding due to covid-19 and higher cases in Quito. From reading reviews Quito is the more interesting of the two places, at 2,850 metres altitude, however we had some fun in Guayaquil so felt it warranted a post of its own. We spend a total of 4 nights there both before and after visiting the islands

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Galápagos Islands on a Budget – 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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Galápagos Islands on a Budget – 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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Galápagos Islands on a Budget – San Cristobal

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, Ecuador.

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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