Galapagos Day 1: Santa Cruz and the Journey
From Otavalo we had driven right into the middle of Quito where we had booked a night in a hotel (The Hotel Quito). The advantage of this hotel was that they have a secure parking lot right next door where we could leave the Beast for our trip to the Galapagos.
The journey to the Galapagos from Quito is quite easy. The domestic terminal of the airport just feels like its in the middle of the city. If going to the Galapagos there is a separate entrance where you get your luggage scanned and your bag is sealed. They don’t do a very good job of sealing it though as they only put a tie round one of the entrances to your bag !
After that you have to get in a queue to buy an immigration card to the Galapagos – this is $10. Seems a bit of rip off to me but then again nothing about the Galapagos is cheap.
With these two steps out of the way you can check in and get on with the trip. The flight was fairly pleasant, as flights go, with around 30 minutes on the ground in Guayquil. There was a small hitch at the start when the flight was delayed because they had to pull someone’s baggage and check it. Imagine my embarrassment when it turned out to be mine !
Once we arrived in the Galapagos you have to go through immigration – well not really immigration but instead of a stamp in your passport you pay $100 for a National Park Ticket.
The airport is on the island of Baltra which is about 500m away from Santa Cruz (where the biggest town Puerto Ayora is). There is nothing else on the island of Baltra apart from the airport. To get to Puerto Ayora you first get a free airport bus which drives across Baltra and to the ferry dock. Then you have to get a small ferry to the other side of the Itabaca Channel.
Once over the channel there is the choice of a public bus for $1.80 or a taxi which costs around $18. The drive takes around 40 minutes and goes up and over the highlands of the island and then drops down to Puerto Ayora on the seaside.
Our hotel was a small 7 room hotel set one block back from the ocean. It was fairly basic but had a big balcony and the hotel had a small plunge pool.