Saturday, August 11, 2012

Excitement in the air as I plan our trip to the Galapagos Islands

I have not been doing any road trips or attending any Cuenca celebrations lately, so I really have not had much to blog about.

So I thought I would share my plans for a trip to the Galapagos Islands with my friend Sue for this September 14th - 18th!

My friend Sue is coming from Iowa and we will do the trip together. I reconnected with sue a couple of years ago when she found me on Facebook after 33 years. She has two great daughters and does a lot of traveling. I am looking forward to our trip together.

The first thing I did was to go to the Cuenca airport to inquire at the Tame, Aerogal and Lan airline ticket offices about round trip airfare to the Galapagos Islands.

I was offered tickets for $460 to $480 round trip from Guayaquil to the Baltra Island airport. The flight takes 1 hour and 50 minutes, its about 670 miles.

I asked about ticket cost with my cedula (residency card) the cost for my ticket went down to $290 round trip. I thought that I should go ahead and purchase the tickets to make sure we would both get on the same flight, but I decided to wait.

When I returned home I went on-line to Cheap-o-air and I found the ticket for the same days for $360 round trip. So I went ahead and purchased a ticket for Sue and the next day I returned to the airport to purchase mine for $290. It did work out and we will both be on the same flight on Sept. 14th.

I was very happy to report to Sue that I saved $310 on our airfare.

I looked up several tour packages that did not include airfare and I found the cheapest one for a 4 night stay at a 2-star hotel which included breakfast and a couple of day boat tours for  $850 each.

I also found a 4 day all inclusive boat cruise starting at $1260 each. Both alternatives were more money then I wanted to spend. The ticket agent told me that September is not high season for the Galapagos Islands and I will find many hotels available for $20 per night and up. Plus we can book any of the tours we want directly with the agencies once we are there. Also it is not so hot this time of year but will still be in the high seventies and low eighties Fahrenheit (around 27 Celsius).

I did meet two Galapagos tour guides in Quito who told me the same thing. They also told me that fresh seafood restaurants offer very affordable meals. I would rather have my choice of different places to eat instead of having all the meals included at the Hotel.

Anyway I will report on all our activities including photos after we return from our trip!

The Galapagos Islands were formed from volcano eruptions some 3.5 million years ago.

The following article I found on:

Natural History of the Galapagos Islands

The natural history of the Galapagos Islands has fascinated visitors since their most famous guest landed there in 1845. Darwin's observations during his voyage on the HMS Beagle laid the foundation for a theory that greatly impacted western thought --the theory of evolution.
Upon rediscovery of the islands, your mind will also reel with delight --leaving you slack-jawed with awe, your camera flashing.
Amid the volcanic geography of these islands 600 miles in the Pacific Ocean, plant life takes root in basalt rock, centurion turtles roam and penguins swim in equatorial waters.
In the 450 years of human history, the islands have been used as prison colonies, naval ports and research stations.
Come with us and discover an undiscovered land in the geology of the Galapagos islands , a unique spot of the earth with an environment nearly untouched by man.

Also here's one on Lonesome George I found on:

Galapagos Islands Newsletter Galapagos Islands News

Lonesome George – Dead!
June 25th, 2012
Lonesome GeorgeLonesome George, the last of his Giant tortoise species, has died at the Charles Darwin Research Station in the Galapagos Islands. Lonesome George's death was announced by the Edwin Naula, the head of the Galapagos National Park service. "This morning the park ranger in charge of looking after George found him dead. His body was motionless," said Naula. 

Fausto Llerena, George's caretaker for 40 years, found Lonesome George dead at the Charles Darwin Research Station early on morning of June 24th, 2012. "His body was still warm but without life". He said. 
Galapagos National Park Officials plan to carry out a post mortem. No one knows exactly how old George was but he was thought to be 100 years old. 100 years is not exceptional for Giant tortoises which can live up to 200 years old.
Lonesome GeorgeLonesome GeorgeLonesome George
The Pinta Island tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra abingdoni) is now an extinct subspecies of Galapagos Giant tortoise. The Species was considered extinct until the discovery of George in 1972 on his native Pinta Island. George was moved to the Charles Darwin Research station on Santa Cruz Island and a global search for a mate continued until recently. Various attempts to breed George with similar species failed.
Related Stories:
Get in touch with one of our experts or request a callback they will be glad to assist you to find the best option to visit Española Island, the home of Diego, or to visit the Charles Darwin Research Station where other tortoises including Lonesome George are cared for!

Now that I have our round trip tickets from Guayaquil to the Galapagos Islands I have been researching the most affordable ways to get to Guayaquil from Cuenca I found a one way flight to Guayaquil from Cuenca at $110 each, which is more then what I want to spend. We can take the bus for $8 each, but then we would have to take a taxi to the bus station here in Cuenca and again to the airport in Guayaquil. This is probably the cheapest option for a total cost of $26, but I do not feel secure about arriving in time for our flight. And having to load and unload our luggage is another hassle I do not want to deal with. Plus the Guayaquil bus station is very large. There is also the Express Van for $12 each, but once again we would be paying for taxi's for a total cost of $34. And I have been told by many expats that due to the curvy roads they would rather take the bus.
Guess I am getting old! Where is my since of adventure? I really just want to find the most affordable convenient way to go!
If we go the day before our flight we would have to stay in a hotel for around $50 and would add two more taxi rides in Guayaquil to get to the airport. I understand these taxi rides for gringos are usually $5! I did find this to be the case in Quito!
With the hotel cost, taxi costs and a couple of meals it could cost us around $90!
So at this point I think I have decided to hire a private car in Cuenca which would pick us up at my condo at 5:30 am for the three hour drive to Guayaquil, which would put us at the airport in plenty of time with much less hassle for $60!
We will need to buy Island passes at the airport prior to departure for $10 each. This is necessary so Island officials can keep track of all the people on the Islands. There are already over 20,000 residents in the Galapagos Islands and people are not allowed to just move there without proof of income or a job.
We will land on Baltra Island which is where the old US military base was. Then we will take a bus across the Island and a ferry to Santa Cruz Island.
There we will either take the 45-minute drive by bus or taxi to Puerto Ayora and look for a hotel.
Darwin Research Center and Park is on Santa Cruz Island, so we will spend some time looking around the Park which is $100 per person entrance fee. Fortunately for me with my cedula I will just have to pay just $7. Sorry Sue!
Once we are settled in a hotel we can decide on Island tours, glass bottom boats and any other tour we might want to take.
I am really looking forward to this trip and spending time with Sue, after 33 years of being out of touch. Sue keeps really busy in Marshalltown, Iowa with keeping her apartments rented out and dealing with all the problems that comes with that. She will be in need of a vacation by the time she arrives in Cuenca I am sure.
When we return to Guayaquil we will rent a car and drive north along the coast, up to Otavalo and back down to Cuenca through Baños, which is known for their Thermos hot pools.

Here is a great deal without all the planning and assurance you will have good accommodations:

Av. 12 de Abril y José Peralta
Edf. Paseo del Puente Ofc. 5      
Cel. 09 9492 3033  Telf  (593) 7 4103-952
Toll Free USA: (305) 897-0346      
Skype:  bryavi 

I have also completed a book about my move to Cuenca, but while researching how to upload it onto kindle I have found that there are many parts in my book that I have to eliminate. I might not be publishing it until after my trip. At which time I can add it to my book.

Many thanks to everyone from over 20 countries that are reading my blog and sending comments.

Until next time I wish everyone happiness and fun filled days.  


  1. Gary,
    Looks like a great trip. We hired a car from Quito to Banos, what a fun place, take the local tourist open bus up the mountain, also take it at night for a trip to the Volcano. Rooms are cheep. We took the bus from Guyaquil to Cuenca, front seats are great.
    I plan to get down to see you in the fall.
    Gail and Wanda want to come but well see.

  2. Hi Gary,
    Once again, great blogging. I look forward to reading about your Galapagos journey for sure. What a great group of friends! You'll soon need a bigger table! I feel the time approaching!
    Take CAre,

    1. You will get here when the time is right I am sure.

  3. In 1995 we took a cruise boat around many of the islands for 10 days and it was wonderful. Of all my many trips it was only below the Kenyan Safari.

    So you are visiting 2 of the islands? Or can you take a day trip on a boat to another island. When we went different islands had different species. A big part of the enjoyment for us was the snorkeling. Apparently the cold Japan current makes the islands a haven for fish... which probably supports more bird life.

    As I remember it the problem for the giant tortoises wasn't just the olden sailing ships picking them up for fresh meat but that the dogs that got loose and went around eating the tortoise eggs. So in 1995 they were trying to get hunters to come and shoots the feral dogs.

    1. I understand the wild goats have also been removed so the can re-populate with new tortoises.

  4. We will decide when we get there which Islands to visit and what tours to take. Now I am thinking 5 days won't be enough, but I can always go back another time.
    Sounds like you have do lots of traveling! That's great!

  5. We went to Galapagos in 2006, and had wonderfull time, take w/you a hat and a nice walking shoes, same for you friend, alot walking, enjoy, remember after 65 years old, everything is 1/2 price. Delores

    1. Thanks for the advice, I am sure we will enjoy the trip every much!