I wouldn't normally consider Moray Eels much of a danger. Sure they look kinda scary, but unless you do something stupid to provoke them they won't bother you.
Diving here often involves clinging to a rocky shore while watching the hammerheads and/or whale sharks, ( especially at Wolf and Darwin Islands) And the rock are just thick with big moray eels. With the strong current and surge throwing you around, it seemed to me pretty easy to get accidentally tangled up with one...
There were a couple times that I almost accidentally kicked one from being tossed around in the surging water... I guess just watch were you put your extremities....
Unusual Combo of Ailments....
Living on a boat for eight days can make your legs do funny things once you are again on dry land. They seems not to want to walk straight, and i could still feel the imaginary rocking in my head even 3-4 days after we we off the boat.
Combine that with the thin air of Quito (elevation 8500 ft) and your head starts feeling dizzy from the lack of Oxygen. So, a dive in the Galapagos followed by a rest day in Quito, will invariably lead to that rare combination of Sea Sick Legs and Altitude Sick Head.... (Cant say I have ever quite felt anything like that.....)
The only cure I few cold beers and maybe a bowl of Ceviche, I guess...
To beer or not to beer....
There is an inherent problem when the dive schedule calls for 5 dives a day, and the boat has an open (i.e. free) bar.... This situation will invariably lead to conflicting choices.... (ive or drink ??? dive or drink ???? what should I do ????)
One case in point was a night dive that I really wanted to do, but all my mates were already in the bar boozing it up having a grand old tyne.... After much angst, I decided to do the dive.. (which was actually rather fun, chasing bat fish around on the sandy bottom......) And my boozing friends actually showed me a bit of kindness, as upon surfacing the first sight I saw was a bottle of cold beer being handed down to me...... Cheers to that....
The Dreaded Curtain of Bubbles....
When chasing the vaunted whaleshark through strong currents you will invariable be blowing air at an ungodly rate. (you can actually see the pressure gauge indicator plummeting....) Thats OK and all, but should another group also be in the water chasing the same whale, you just may find yourself blinded by a curtain of air bubbles from below...
The seas can be quite rough and the islands are quite some distance apart.....10 to 17 hours most nights. If you are prone to sea sickness , it might be best to pick a 4 night cruise. The shorter cruises stick to the closer islands and you will see almost as much..Related to:
- National/State Park
- Sailing and Boating
Watch out for the big guy!
All the creatures in the Galapagos don't view humans as predators. So because of that, you can get quite close to take pictures. Don't get too close the the female and baby sea lions though. A very large male will probably come your way barking as to let you know that you are too close as this one in the picture did. Run! Nah, just don't get too close..
You simply can't wear enough sunscreen in the Galapagos. We applied RELIGIOUSLY and still wound up crispy.
Biggest culprits - the afternoon siesta - you find a nice spot in the shade and decide to take a quick nap while en route to the afternoon location only to wake up in full sun.
Don't forget aloe (which we also applied religiousl) - and bring it on the plane for the flight home (because the airplane air is ultra dry and you'll start to flake before reaching cruising altitude).
Pictures and full trip report available on our web site
Lines, and more lines
Despite being one of the world's greatest destinations, getting to your hotel or boat on the Galapagos can be frustrating, and getting back can be even more difficult.
If you fly from Quito, you will probably have an assigned seat on the plane - from Guayaquil you often do not. Be prepared for a mass of people that rush to the plane to get the 'good' seats, whatever those are.
Once you arrive, you will wait in a line at immigration. Then, you will wait in a line for your bus to the ferry. At the ferry, people will push to get their luggage on the ferry roof, and then push to get on the ferry's seating below.
At the ferry landing, people will again push to get on one of the buses to Puerto Ayora. Once you make it to Puerto Ayora, your waiting in lines is finally over.
On your return, the lines to get a bus from the ferry landing in Baltra to the Airport can be brutal, and heavy pushing is common. Again at the airport, you have to wait in one line to have your luggage inspected, another to check in (if you have more than one in your group, send some people with the luggage while others wait in the checkin line), and finally another line for security. Then, you will need to line up to board the plane.
Hopefully the Ecuadorian government will realize what a burdon this places on tourists and devise a much better system than currently exists!
Galapagos is a safe place
The Islands are nothing like the mainland cities of Guayaquil and Quito......they are very safe. Most people leave doors unlocked, and crime is absent. The guides even say that the "hammerheads are vegetarians", but I won't take responsibility for that one!
(Although you never know if your fellow tourists are safe, just don't brag too much about your photos being better than theirs or you may lose your camera)
If you know you are having problems with sea sickness you should bring anti sea sickness pills.
I bought anti sea sickness pills in Isabela City... Ask your guide where to buy them.
The pills name was Mareol (heavy stuff).
That's a bunch of bull!
Sea lions are everywhere, and as mentioned in a "must see" tip for La Loberia, bull sea lions patrol a particular stretch of beach and shoo off any rivals they encounter.
For some reason, a bull often seems to think that human visitors have come to challenge him to a duel of honor to see who gets to be king of the beach (and of its female occupants).
If you are attacked by a bull, you will lose the fight. For sure. Just get out of the way, back off, and he will assume he has won the fight through simple intimidation. And in a way, he has.
By the way, you won't want to try to look "down there" to figure out which is the male. There are easier ways! Males are *much* bigger than females, and they have a prominent brow, or hump, on their foreheads.
The photo shows a bull, a female, and a pup.
Stay on the path
Every island landing and visitor site in the park (which holds 95% of the land in the islands) has defined pathways where visitors are expected to walk.
Visitors may *not* go beyond the established limits of the path/viewing area as these are laid out so as to avoid nesting grounds and other fragile aspects of the ecosystem.
Every visitor to the Galapagos must be accompanied by a licenced guide, and these men and women take their responsibilities as guardians of the visitor sites very seriously. They have the authority to send visitors who do not heed the warnings to 'get back on the path' back to the boat.
Black market souvenirs
When you shop for souvenirs in the Galapagos, beware of vendors who offer items made from coral, shells, sea lion teeth, tortoise or turtle shell. Stick to the t-shirts, pottery, wood carvings, canvas tote bags, and so on.
The park authorities ask that any vendor offering items made of prohibited materials be reported.
The water can be quite rough on some of the passages your boat will sail. Make sure you are prepared by bringing along seasickness remedies. If you don't like pills, consider getting some ginger concentrate, or candied ginger. It is known to be a natural seasickness preventative. If you like to cook, you might try making your own. See the link to one recipe below.
Make sure to let the captain and the guide know if you have tendencies towards seasickness. You might want to change cabins so that you don't sleep on an upper deck (which rocks more from side to side than cabins on low decks) or in a cabin in the bow (which rocks up and down more than cabins towards the stern).
Boat Tours. Contracts and Sharks
Make sure you get your travel agent to sign a contract outlining your itinerary and the total cost of your tour. Make sure they include which islands you will visit, how many days you will be on the tour and how many meals are included. Our contract became quite a valuable asset after our boat engine stopped working half way through our tour. We were able to get a refund of the outstanding days. It was not easy but we used the contract as evidence.Related to:
- Diving and Snorkeling
- Sailing and Boating
Galápagos Islands Hotels
Barrio Punta Estrada S/N, Puerto Ayora, 00000, Ecuador
Good for: Business
Puerto Villamil, Isabela Galapagos Islands, , Ecuador
Good for: Solo
Before coming to San Cristóbal I had read in my guidebook about Hostal Casa de Laura and it seemed...more
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