Traveling to the Galapagos Islands is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. The Islands are a world of their own. Separate from the rest of the world, nature dominates the volcanic landscape with man secondary.
The primary and best way to visit the islands is by taking a cruise from Baltra Island. There is a wide variety of cruise ships that range from back-packer style to deluxe accommodations. The lengths of the trips can range from three days to fourteen days under sea.
Extensive research in finding the right boat for you can begin at GalapagosIslands.com cruise finder. However, knowing that this is a U.S. based company, after selecting the ship we wanted, I chose to make reservations through Surtrek Travel based in Quito, Ecuador. Communication with Surtrek was superb with prompt email replies in English. Payment was done through wire transfer in cash. Credit card payments required a surcharge.
When choosing a boat, my friend and I wanted a smaller boat with just the right amount of guests. The Eclipse run by Ocean Adventures, met our criteria by having 46 passengers, snorkel equipment, and kayaks included in the cruise.
In making our flight arrangements, we chose to travel through Guayaquil instead of Quito. It just didn’t make sense to us to subject our sea-level bodies to 9,000 feet of altitude for 24 hours, only to return back to sea level. Guayaquil ended being a closer departure city from the mainland to Baltra – Galapagos Islands. Traveling on a chartered AeroGal flight booked by travel agents, we arrived to Baltra, a desolate and deserted Island.
During World War II, the U.S. Sixth Air force set up base here to protect the South American and Panama coastlines from the Japanese. The remaining extensive runway is now for commercial use.
The Eclipse staff met us just outside the small customs and immigration for Galapagos and whisked us away in buses towards the harbor. While waiting for departure, I began to ponder on the leafless trees. Seems these stick trees are actually alive.
We’re now on Island time and things begin to go slower. But the tourism at Galapagos is a well-oiled machine. The Ecuadorians know how to professionally, tactfully and effectively move large amounts of people to and from the ships moored in the harbor. Donning life jackets and given a brief orientation on boat safety, we loaded onto the “Pangas” one by one.
Seems a Brown Noddy was thinking of hitching a ride with us.
Heading closer to the Eclipse ship we had our first view of our week’s home-away-from-home.
The M/V Eclipse is 210 feet long, carries 48 passengers and 35 crew including four naturalist guides. Considered a mid-size ship and rated by Conde Nast as a “Top Small Cruise Ship,” the Eclipse is a sea faring vessel with luxury aboard.
After learning that the naturalists in the Galapagos Islands are independent contractors, the massive National Geographic ships with around 100 guests can hold no candle to the beauty and exclusivity of the Eclipse. Because of its smaller footprint, the Eclipse is able to go to landings that a larger vessel couldn’t. Also, it was learned that each ship is only allowed to have no more than 48 passengers on land at a time. Up to twelve visitors are grouped with a Naturalist and are required to stay with the naturalist at all times.
So aboard we will go on the Eclipse to begin our seven day adventure through the Galapagos Islands. Quite a few stops are planned along the way, so join me on my journey through this exotic land.
Wuaow…what a paradise!! :O :O
But a strange paradise. It was hot, steamy in the mornings, and desert like with volcanic rocks. A very harsh climate with little natural resources on each island. It’s amazing how nature adapted to what was available on each island.
That’s nature huh? ever changing and always intriguing 🙂
Let’s see, open bar, Jacuzzi, captains chairs and library. You already mentioned great food, and you go ashore with camera in hand! Sounds lovely, Emily.
It was a trip that dreams come true. Did I forget to mention the 3 times a day maid service? Thought I would rub it in a little. 🙂
Great post Em…..looks like my kind of boat…😉. Looking forward to your other posts from this trip.
This boat was totally awesome Mark. Hubby, who is a boater, really was impressed by this boat as well and said it is a true sea faring vessel.Thank you!
You obviously did a lot of research before your trip, and chose well on all counts. I remember reading of the strict rules being put in place there in the Galapagos Islands because of the harm that the tourists were doing to the ecosystems there, as well as trying to take some of the animals back home with them. I’m really looking forward to the rest of your posts from this trip!
There is one island that has graffiti all along the cliffs. I didn’t take photos, but people were able to it up to 1989. Now all of the islands are a National Park and are well preserved with controlled land visits.
What a great experience, Emily. I’m excited to see your pics from Galapagos. It’s a place I would love to visit. Have lots of fun. 🙂
How I would hope you can make it there some day.There is nothing like it on the earth.
Ooh! I can’t wait for your next post! !
Wow! This has to be amazing!
Somehow I got Unfollowed on your blog, and all this time I just thought maybe you were not posting anymore. Glad to know you are still around and it should be fixed now. 🙂
No worries Phil ! I’ve had that happen to me as well with several of my favorites. I hope you’re feeling better. Back home now and working day by day now through my images. 🙂
I’m looking forward to all of your posts about the Galapagos!! What a trip!
Thank you so much Judy. I’m so excited to share my experience as well.
Oh Emily – this was a wonderful post!
You are truly too kind Rebecca. Thank you!
Awesome Trip Photos.
Thank you so very much Edgar.
Wow, wow wow, my heart is bouncing around. This looks like an incredible trip. Seems your research paid off because that cruise ship sounds ideal! It seems you get the best of both worlds; you’re not so entranced in cruise luxury that you’re that much more separated from the world around you and yet you still get comfort and luxury. Uh, perfect. Can’t wait to check out the rest of this adventure!
I need feedback on this service
No I sure don’t. But I did see a link for tripadvisor, so you can get feedback there.