The title is Sarah's fault.
I mean...Sarah came up with the witty title!!!!!!!!!!!
You see, we lost our Galapagos trip last (school) year, but we won it back this (school) year!
For our November 2019 break, our family flew to Quito, stayed the night in a hotel near the airport, and then hopped over to the Galapagos. Although the islands are on the actual equator (it was the first time the kiddos were in the Southern Hemisphere) it was actually chilly! Upon touching down, the Big O looked out the airplane window and uttered, "I wasn't sure what to expect the Galapagos to look like, but it wasn't this." The area near the airport was scrubby desert, but after a bus to the other side of the small island and a ferry across the strait we climbed into a taxi truck and sped up to the high ground of Isla Santa Cruz. The landscaped quickly changed to a vibrant green and we explored Los Gemelos (the twins), two volcanic calderas.
Next was the nearby El Chato 2 Ranch to check out some underground lava tunnels and the local fauna.
And then "home" to our hotel in the "city." Not a bad first day, eh?
A little town set in the dry and deserty rocks, Puerto Ayora had some interesting nooks and crannies to explore.
We wandered over to the Charles Darwin Research Station in town to get the low-down on the animals of the islands, with a focus on the giant tortoises.
During a mellow afternoon while the rest of the family read in our hotel room I explored the city a bit. The locals seem to really love to build a second or third story on their house, and then not finish it. An ever-evolving house is the way to go it seems.
The next day we hiked across town to the harbor, took a water taxi just to the base of a cliff on the other side, and walked to Las Grietas, a snorkelable cravasse just past "German Beach" and some old salt flats.
The Eldest challenged his siblings to bury him and see how long it would take for him to break free.
Which of course meant that when he returned the favor to the Big O it was a challenge accepted.
The next morning we took a stomach-churning boat ride to Isla Isabela. The kiddos were lucky enough not to lose their breakfast on the way; the adultos, not so much.
The Galapagos is famous for its wildlife, the easiest to spot being the marine iguana, with sea lions being a close second. I thought the iguanas were ubiquitous on Isla Santa Cruz, but that was nothing compared to Isabela. They're everywhere, usually lazing around near the water. And, like the sea lions, they don't move when you get close.
On Isabela we went on a great walking and snorkeling trip which included Los Túneles and other nearby spots. We were lucky enough to see just about all the charismatic megafauna we were hoping for: tons of sea turtles, various kinds of sharks, a school of rays, a seahorse, as well as blue footed boobies. As we were heading home in the boat we saw a huge (10 foot wingspan?) manta ray wave its "wing" at us! A couple of days later we swam over sleeping sharks and spotted a lone Galapagos penguin.
The wildlife was astounding, but we also enjoyed having a bit of a lazy week on the equator.
Did I mention that flamingos just casually hang out in the lagoon near our hotel?
As the rest of the family rested, The Eldest and I rented bikes and cycled up to an old wall built by prisoners when the island was a penal colony. We almost hit a tortoise or two (we should ride slower) and saw some awesome views.
All in all, a trip of a lifetime. If you get the chance, I highly recommend checking out this corner of the world.