Days Spent: 26 Days (18th September 2014 – 15th October 2014).
Total Cost: $3604.12.
Galapagos Cruise (last minute price): $1470
TAME flight (Quito <-> Galapagos): $463.99
Things to do
7 days / 6 nights cruise on the Treasure of Galapagos.
1. Transfer in Baltra: Charles Darwin station
2. Islote Eden – Cerro Dragon
3. Tintoreras – Humedales
4. Punta Moreno – Bahia Urbina
5. Punta Espinoza – Caleta Tagus
6. Puerto Egas – Rabida
7. Bachas – Transfer out Baltra
Our tour guide was Jan Tiddo Post, a Dutch naturalist who was a fantastic guide. He was enthusiastic about the geography and the wildlife which the Islands had on offer. Going snorkelling with him and discovering the history behind the formation of the Islands was a real treat.
Treasure of Galapagos, is a First Class Catamaran. Fast boat, but when there are waves, it can be a little scary due to the little creaking sound the boat can make. On the other hand the boat is probably less bumpy compared to the smaller boats. The crew were very nice and the captain allowed us to direct the boat on the direction to go when we were searching for whales. We saw the whales blowing water from their blowhole but we were unable to see one up close.
The travellers. In our group we had a family from Australia, Grandparents, Mum and three kids, a couple from Australia, a couple from Israel, two couples from UK, a Swiss travel fanatic and myself. I shared a cabin with the Swiss traveller (PS), who was an amateur photographer and we got on amazingly well, we stuck around for the Galapagos for a week after, travelled around Quito and Otavallo. I had an amazing time with the group as everyone had different backgrounds.
Will be putting out the pictures of Galapagos soon.
A cruise around the Islands were an amazing experience and if anyone is in the Galapagos and can afford to spend the budget, I would highly recommend it.
Galapagos Island Hoping
I was able to Island hope between Santa Cruz and Isabella. This is an economical option for travellers. An amazing experience, never the less.
On Santa Cruz, travellers can check out:
- El Chato Tortoise Reserve, where beautiful pictures of the Tortoise can be taken, whilst a free tea or coffee is available for $5.
- Tortuga Bay, where you can swim, kayak or sun bathe around the gorgeous beach.
- Charles Darwin Station, tour around the turtle breeding areas, whilst there is explanation on the biosphere of the Galapagos Islands.
- Eat around Charles Binford in Puerto Ayora. The large lobster there for $52 for 2 from Renato’s is really filling and great value (Renato’s). Lunches cost between $3 to $5 and is a great place to eat on a budget.
- Check out the Lava Tunnels.
- Fish Market, Japanese travellers like to buy tuna from the market and make it into a sashimi.
Stay in a Hostel which costs between $15 – 20 per night. Travellers can book Scuba diving trips to Gordon Rock and Seymour, which are the two famous sites for hammerheads.
Isabella has a few more activities to offer in terms of nature.
- Los Tuneles, a fantastic tour consisting of snorkelling with eagle rays, white tip sharks, turtles, penguins and sea horses. Lava arches form a picturesque scene, where you want to snap pictures away. We were really luck to see Blue footed boobies with their chicks. This tour is special and should not be missed. Take a go pro and if your worried about your SLR going near water, a point and shoot camera. (Cost: $85 with go pro photos(not high quality), packed lunch and two days use of the snorkelling gear + wetsuit, after negotiation)
- Sierra Negra Volcano trek. Trek around a live volcano and a massive caldera, for the geography buffs, this is a wonder of the world. Its a beautiful trek and travellers get to see more than one volcano on the tour and at one point can see the island of Fernandina Island in the background. Make sure to take a light rain jacket as the afternoon can bring with it moisture and mist will likely form making it wet to walk at the end of the tour. (Cost $30, with packed lunch)
- Port of Puerto Villamil. When you get to the port from Puerto Ayora, you are greeted by Sea Lions, mostly napping on the bench. During the day take your snorkelling gear and wetsuit and get into the water, you will see Penguins buzzing around, Sea Lions playing in the water. The penguins are hard to catch on your underwater camera but the sea lions are amazing, they are really playful and you will get wonderful clips of them. If you go further out from where the boats are of the port, you could be lucky and spot giant turtles and sharks swimming around.
Yolanda the owner of the inn is very welcoming and gets you to feel at home. Located close to the new town with lots of restaurants and bars. It was my first stop on my trip around South America and I felt very safe at the inn. The draw back was that my Spanish was pretty much none existent and Yolanda used a translator to translate things from English to Spanish so sometimes we were lost in translation.
Cost: $68 (2 nights in double)
Time spent: 18-20th September 2014
Take the top rooms for a beautiful view of the old town of Quito (the internet connection isn’t the best from up there but its worth it, rooms 23 & 24 are recommended). Family run hostel with really good breakfasts with fresh juice at $3. The view from the dining room is gorgeous even without getting the rooms at the top.
Cost: $15 (per night in a single)
Time Spent: 3rd – 7th October 2014
Elizabeth (Puerto Ayora)
This hostel had the best internet connection in terms of places where i went to on the Puerto Ayora Island (admittedly didn’t go to the expensive Hotels to try their internet but I didn’ go there to be online all the time). Run by a lady whose hard to bargain with. In terms of how the room looked I wasn’t the most impressed but to email family and friends after my cruise, it was a good place to stop off.
Cost: $20 (per night in a single)
Time Spent: 26th – 27th September 2014
Brattle Hospedaje (Puerto Ayora)
This hostel has been talked about between the Japanese back packers. It has a dining room, kitchen and fridge which guests can use. This can help to budget your out going food expenses as the restaurants in Galapagos are known for being pricey. The alternative is to go to the supermarket and the fish market to pick up your ingredients and cook it in the kitchen available at the hostel. Try the tuna from the fish market, its good quality even to make sashimi. The double rooms on the 1st floor are nice and clean (liked the double room to the left of the entrance on the 1st floor in front of the reception). The dormitory on the ground floor is clean but can be rather stuffy as the ventilation isn’t the best but there are fans available to help with the ventilation. The great thing about this hostel are the owners Simon and Viviana, they are really nice couple. Simon is British and is around willing to help and suggest on things which you can do on the island. Believe the hostel will slowly develop for the better for the future.
Cost: $15 (per night dorm/single depending on availability)
Time Spent: 27th – 29th September + 2nd – 3rd October 2014.
Iguana Rosa (Isabella)
A nice private pad to have on the Island of Isabella. Its out of the town centre but if you want privacy in an area which is slowly getting built up this is a great place to be. Two en-suite double bedrooms and big kitchen/lounge at the entrance, I really enjoyed my stay here with my Swiss buddy who I met on the cruise around Galapagos. Its owned by Simon and Viviana from Brattle, so ask them about Iguana Rosa whilst in Puerto Ayora. Getting the keys can be a bit of a mission but I have to say our time in the pad was definitely worth it.
Cost : $15 (per night in double)
Time Spent: 29th September – 2nd October 2014.
There is a direct min bus service from Quito to Secret Garden in Cotopaxi for $5 (if there is enough demand), which saves the time and hustle to organise your own transportation. The exterior and interior of the hostel is beautiful and the owners have an on going project to make the facility self-sustainable and more eco friendly. There is a limited amount of places to charge your electrical goods, making you maximise the amount of time you interact with nature. Make sure to bring a good book to read in the evenings they have a great lounge area with a charming fireplace.
I stayed in the dorm, it was very cozy and really enjoyed the wood fire in the middle of the room. Two medics who graduated from Edinburgh, camped outside and they seemed to get quality sleep.
I met with Tarquin one of the owners of Secret Garden, nice chap. One thing I wish the owners would do is to employee more locals and educate them about the hostel industry. I felt there was more reliance on foreign volunteers. The reason I would like to see more locals is it helps to grow the knowledge and the skills of the locals, whilst improving the local economy. On the other hand its a great place for foreign travellers to work whilst enjoying the very best of nature.
The hostel offers, hikes up Cotopaxi and the nearby summits, horse riding and mountain biking. For apres-activities, there is a Jacuzzi to relax your sore body.
Cost: $50.7 (1 night per person in dorm, all meals included + hike up one of the low summits).
Time spent: 7th – 8th October 2014
For the budget traveller this is a great hostel to stay in with a kitchen. I was there just before a public holiday (Independence of Guayaquil). The new building has nice rooms but they were unfortunately all taken.
When I was there the hostel was going through a change of management. The previous owners grandchildren/children greeted initially and quoted high price but as I didn’t want to deal with kids (no offence), I went to the reception to be greeted by an American Volunteer who quoted a price which I thought was very reasonable.
Agreed on a single room on the 2nd floor of the hostel in the main old building.
In the evening I met up with the new Manager of the hostel, well travelled local who spoke really good English. He explained about the current situation and how he wanted the hostel to be renovated for the future. Think the change in management will work in favour of the hostel and the service, and Im looking forward to the changes to the hostel.
Cost: $7 (per night for single, on the old side of the hostel)
Time spent: 8th – 9th October 2014
Good breakfast at $3.5 with a nice view of Banos. Close to the Waterfall and Spa. Rooms are clean. Laundry service at $7 (for i think 5kgs). Didnt have the best experience with a dorm mate which was a shame. The hostel has a book swap deal if your looking for new books to indulge into.
Cost: $7 (dormitory per night)
Time spent: 9th – 10th October 2014
The hostel has nice courtyards for visitors to relax. Its a high quality hostel, run by a very nice lady whose always cheerful and helpful. Its around a 7 minute walk to the centre of town but the hotel has good restaurants surrounding it. The hostel has a book swap deal. As the weather wasn’t great and I wasn’t feeling great I didn’t get to adventure much around the area but I definitely got a quality nights sleep in this hostel. Recommended for those who want to relax and get a good nights sleep.
Cost: $15 (single per night)
Time spent: 10th – 11th October 2014
Posada Del Rio
The hostel has a nice colonial feel and is beautifully laid out. There is a kitchen for those who are on a budget and want to cook their own breakfast/lunch/dinner. Breakfast isn’t included so I would recommend getting fresh fruits from the local market and making a fruit salad in the morning to liven the start to the day. The dorms are clean and comfortable, there are bars close by so sometimes the music over the weekends can be heard until around midnight. The lounge/dining room is big and a relaxing place to go on the net or watch tv. I had a good stay here and met few travellers I could share information on which places I should check out next, whilst offering advice on where others could go in the Galapagos.
Cost: $8 (dormitory)
Time spent: 11th – 14th October 2014
Hotel Las Penas
From reading reviews on Guayaquil, I thought I would be safe and stayed at a Hotel (the first time on my journey in Ecuador). The hotel was simple, a double bed and clean toilets. Air conditioning was available in humid Guayaquil, which made it easy for me to get a good nights rest before heading over the border into Peru. It might have been better to stay in a hostel but I thought it would be better to get some rest before my long bus journey into Peru.
Cost: $50 (Single with Breakfast)
Time spent: 14th – 15th October 2014