The Journey to the Galapagos Islands

While the physical journey started on the 19 December 2018, the destination had been a dream for 5 years since I visited Darwin’s House (Down House) in Kent, England. The idea that a group of islands and the animals living on these islands could change the course of science put it firmly on my bucket list of travel destinations.  The photos and stories of my brother and sister-in-law and my travelling buddy shared pushed it up the list into number one.

I travelled to Sydney international airport just before Christmas along with what felt like half of Sydney was a good way to put one in the holiday mood. After a civilised lunch with a celebratory glass of bubbly for my friend’s birthday, we boarded the flight for what would be the longest day ever…. The 12.5-hour flight (excluding what now seems to be the obligatory delay at Sydney airport) left at 12:50 Sydney time and got us to Santiago airport at 11:10 am on the same day… the wonders of a crossing the international deadline.

The Chilean surprise that greets all Australian is a reciprocal entry fee of 117 USD for the privilege of entering the country. While steep for our overnight stay, it lasts for 90 days. With a 5.30 am flight the next day, we managed to delay the jet lag by having lunch/dinner at 6 pm, ready for a 2.30 am wake up call.

We found Santiago airport at 3.30 a.m., a sea of humanity queuing up to go somewhere with lots of luggage, wrapped large Christmas presents, new TVs. Confusion about lines, automated vs. /manual check-ins and poor signage meant that we were unexpectedly ushered to a separate queue. Clearing customs was the lengthy process with the customs officials while bag screening was a smooth and seamless process.

After a 4 hour flight and a 2 hour time change, we landed in Lima for a 4.5-hour stopover. Without access to an airline lounge, we lasted till about 10 am until we sat down for an early lunch. Then after another 2 hour and 20-minute flight we finally landed in Quito, Ecuador. We spent a day and a half recovering and exploring Quito (see the separate Quito CIty post)

The final Ecuadorian flight, started with a 3.30 am a pick-up for a 5.30 am flight, after a minor quarantine incident where my passionfruit was confiscated while the rest of the group’s apples were passed through without a problem. We were on the final leg of the journey to the Galapagos – destination Isla Baltra.

Upon arrival at Baltra airport while our luggage was subject to a canine inspection we were required to pay 100 USD for to the National Park and 20 USD for a transfer fee. A much-needed coffee, a typical Ecuadorian snack of Huminta and the intermittent phone/wi-fi signal was how we spent the next 2.5 hours. The highlight of the wait was the warning signs not to feed the Darwin finches and spying on the food choices of the airport staff.

Finally, our guide Alexis met us for the bus transfer to the boat Jetty, We spotted sally lightfoot crabs, a sea lion and a pelican from the jetty despite the boat shelter being in the middle of construction.

Finally, our panga (zodiac) came to collect us for the short ride to the boat. Once onboard, we were lucky enough to have our fourth and final “breakfast” of the day….

It was then quickly followed by lunch 1.5 hours later….. And finally, the holiday can begin!

#buckletlist; #Galapagos; #travel; #nature; #landscape; #adventure; #intrepidtravel

Travel Date: December 2018

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