A Tourist’s View of the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador – Part 2
Once you’ve safely arrived in the Galapagos and have paid the $100 entry tax ($50 for children under 12), you’ll want to visit the various islands as each has something different to offer. How you do your island hopping is up to you: via air or sea. Local entrepreneurs have established air and sea passenger transport companies that are relatively inexpensive, costing approximately $100 per person per flight with a 30 lb. Luggage weight limit. Chartering a plane will cost about $500 per hour. Although the view from the window of a low-flying plane is simply spectacular, taking a slow boat from island to island has its own rewards. Just $40 will get you from one island to the next.
Most tourists want to see the famous Giant Tortoises, and the place to begin is the Charles Darwin Research Station located on Isabela Island. The staff at the Station have maintained a captive breeding center for tortoises since 2000 that includes incubators and corrals for baby, juvenile and adult tortoises. The oldest tortoise living at the Station is estimated to be a hearty 170 years old. If so, that would mean it was born very close to the time Darwin first arrived in the Galapagos in 1835. There are approximately 15,000 Giant Tortoises in the Galapagos today, comprising 11 different species.
Tours for small or large groups can be arranged from any of the highland ranches that host tourists or from advertised facilities in the main town on Santa Cruz island, Puerto Ayora. Guided tours are a good way to see the wonders of the Galapagos from a native’s perspective. Whether it’s a hike out to a rocky beach to view the marine iguanas, a visit to the pristine sands of Tortuga Bay, or even a leisurely trip on a glass bottomed boat to view the abundant underwater life on the coral reefs, Puerto Ayora is the place where it all begins. Where your journey ends is up to you!