The Galapagos Islands, an archipelago of volcanic islands located off the coast of Ecuador, South America. The first of the islands and the oldest, Espanola dates back to 3.4 million years old and the baby of the group is Isabella at 1 million years old. Islands are disappearing and new islands are forming all the time as the tectonic plates are still very much active. The group of islands, first discovered by chance in 1535 by Tom Fray. The islands are now part of the Galapagos National Park and Marine Reserve. Each of the islands are very different and are a host to many unique species of flora and fauna, in lands that seem to have stood still.
One of the best ways to discover the thirteen visit able islands and see the rare species is by boat, I was lucky to have been able to experience the wonders of the Galapagos Islands with Celebrity Cruises on-board the Celebrity Xpedition Ship.
Galapagos Islands Cruise
Celebrity cruises offer a packages including a pre-cruise two night stay in Quito the cultural heart of Ecuador with city tour and transfers, internal flights to Baltra and all inclusive on-board services.
There are a few different itineraries varying in durations and islands. As well as taking a cruise there is accommodation in Santa Cruz and you can take daily boat trips.
The are available all year round.
Kicker Rock (San Cristobal)
The closest island to the mainland San Cristobal known for its boot like shape. It was a calm and sunny day to enjoy a cocktail up on deck and watch the colourful male frigate birds flying over head.
Punta Suarez & Gardner Bay (Espanola)
Gardener Bay has a beautiful white sandy beach with aquamarine water. Home to a colony of sea lions and the waved albatross.
With the islands having no real predators the animals are fearless and very curious! Allowing you to experience close and personal moments.
Cormorant Point & Post Office (Floreana)
Rich with vegetation unlike its younger sibling volcanic islands. Visit the historical wooden barrel left in 1793 by a whaling crew that is still used as a post box today and hear the colourful stories of buccaneers, colonists and convicts of times gone by. The first resident on the island was an Irish man named Patrick Watkins who lived there from 1807 -1809.
Punta Moreno & Urivina Bay (Isabela)
Named Isabella after Queen Isabela of Spain.
See the blue lagoons encrusted between the Pahohoe lava fields the sun beating down and the pink flamingos dancing in the shimmering lake. The vegetation on the island is limited and mainly encompasses three different kinds of Cacti, Candelabra cactus, prickley pear cactus and lava cactus. Panoramic views of the three most active volcanos can be seen from here the Sierra Negra, Cerro Azul of Isabela Island and La Cumbre of Fernandina Island.
At Urivina Bay look out for the tortoises. The slow moving creatures give you plenty of time to get that perfect photo.
Punta Vicente Roca (Isabella) & Punta Espinoza (Fernandina)
Fernandina is home to La Cumbre Volcano last erupting in 2009.
Punta Vicente offers great snorkelling with sea turtles and Molo Molo (Sunfish).
Then at Punta Espinoza take a stroll over the lava fields and witness the gazillions of marine iguanas! Some of the other wildlife to be seen are the sea lions, sea turtles, flightless cormorants and lava herons and possibly the Galapagos hawk.
Dragon Hill, South Plaza & Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz)
Dragon Hill named after the many land iguanas in the area. Walk through the three different environment’s on the short 1600 metre long trail.
South plaza has the most colourful and vibrant ground vegetation Sesuvium. See the prickly cactus and enjoy the panoramic sea views while observing the Red-billed tropic birds, Nazca Boobie and Swallow Tailed gulls nesting on the cliffs edge.
Visit the Charles Darwin Centre in Puerto Avora and see the incredible work they do. The centre was once home to the great Lonesome George the last of the Pinta Tortoise. Known as the rarest creature in the world at 100 years old. Lonesome George was last seen in the Natural History Museum in New York before heading back to South America.
There are some lovely restaurants and gift shops to be explored in Santa Cruz. Also if looking for something special to take home the carved palm nuts are unique to the islands.
Don’t miss the Blue Footed Boobie’s and the vibrant Sally Lightfoot crab!