After a short ride on PeruHop from Paracas, we arrived in Huacachina mid afternoon. Most of the travelers on the bus followed the recommended schedule of immediately joining a tour to the sand dunes and then they would depart the following morning. Keeping to our slower pace, we planned an extra night which allowed us to push the tour to the following day. Because Will was still recovering from being sick, this really worked in our favor.
We grabbed a room at PeruHop’s recommended hostel, Casa de Arena Lodge, and tried to relax before finding dinner. We were immediately uncomfortable in our room due to a strong stench of paint fumes. We noticed an employee was spray painting the banister outside of our room and the gaps in the window were inviting the fumes into our room. Continue reading
We ended the Galapagos tour onboard Darwin Yacht before 10am in the town of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. We had a rough plan of staying in town for a few days to go scuba diving and then wanted to head to another inhabited island for exploring on our own. While walking the main street in town, we stopped at several scuba diving shops which all seemed very similar. We decided to focus on finding a place to stay and use wifi to research the different dive companies. I’m glad we did because several of the companies have very negative online reviews stating that safety was compromised. We found the top rated company, Tip Top Dive, which turned out to just be a training center but they recommended that we dive with Scuba Iguana. We signed up for a trip to Gordon Rocks leaving the following morning.
Gordon Rocks is known for schools of hammerhead sharks and we were excited for the possibility to see some. We had about an hour ride to the dive site in a small speed boat. We first stopped at the Plaza Islands where we did a short dive to test our equipment. We were excited to learn that we would be in small groups with only four people per dive master. During the briefing for the dives, the dive masters informed us that they wanted to maximize down time so offered to share air with the first person to run low but that it was only an option, not a requirement. Neither Will or I considered this a safe practice but did not feel pressured to participate. Continue reading
Our five day tour of the Galapagos Islands onboard Darwin Yacht started out with a bang! (Click here if you missed the first half of Touring the Galapagos) The fun continued with several more stops:
Day 3 Continued: Espanola
After lunch, Darwin motored to the other side of Espanola for our afternoon adventure. Along the way, we spotted a huge pod of dolphins and Captain changed our course so we would intersect them. As we became surrounded by the pod of hundreds, several dolphins swam into formation with the bow of the boat. It was amazing to watch them swim and jump out of the water in perfect speed with Darwin.
We made it to Punta Suarez where we went for an afternoon hike. When we landed, we immediately saw a baby sea lion nursing which Billy estimated was only a few days old. We continued on a trail where we found more baby sea lions, marine iguanas, a Galapagos mocking bird, and a Galapagos hawk. But the main attractions were the large colonies of albatrosses and nazca boobies. We sat for quite awhile watching the albatross landing zone. Several of the young birds were doing a courting dance where they find their mate for life (a process Billy said would take several months). We also witnessed the nazca boobies courtship where the males present rocks as gifts to his partner for life. It was amazing to stand only Continue reading
We arrived in Quito‘s airport bright and early for our 8:00 flight to the Galapagos. Thankful the tourist agent gave a complete description of the special process because signs were lacking, we got in line for the extra Galapagos check and processing before checking-in with the airline. The two flights on LAN were uneventful but it made us wonder if stopping in Quito was necessary. There are rarely direct flights from Quito to the Galapagos and upon arriving in the Galapagos we saw that any traveler could just show up, make their way to town, and grab a hostel (contrary to needing a guide for everything as we had heard from family members).
Exiting the airport, we found a tour guide holding a “Darwin Yacht” sign Continue reading