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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Panama/Galapagos Celebrating Twenty Five

Galapagos Islands 2016
Panama/Quinto
March 19-29  2016

To celebrate our 25th anniversary we decide to go to visit Galapagos Islands.  We had such a great trip and made great memories.  

We had a layover in Panama going.  We stayed at the Westin Panama.  It was really close to the airport and a great hotel.  Review is here

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g294480-d3767500-r363447792-The_Westin_Panama-Panama_City_Panama_Province.html

We also hired a driver half the day to see the city and canal.  We only had a few hours to sight see.  














The next morning we were on our way to Santa Cruz.  We decided on a land based vacation staying the whole time on Santa Cruz.

When you land you take a bus. a ferry. a taxi or city bus.  If your hotel offers transfers to/from the airport I would advise you to arrange transfers through them.  We shared a taxi since we missed the last bus.  It was about a hour wait and a little confusing.  There were several police there and were very kind to help.

On bus headed to ferry



Bus and Ferry

Taxi on the way to Santa Cruz

We stayed at Torre Mar

Great location and walking distance to everything.




View from Room


Our first full day on Santa Cruz we crammed it full..  Went to Tortuga Bay and Charles Darwin Center

Tortuga Bay is beautiful.  It is about a 45 minute hike each way on a paved trail.  Take plenty of water.  Go early to beat the crowds.....close to lunch it gets busy.













Charles Darwin Center








Our first day trip was with Santa Fe Galapagos.   We went to Santa Fe Island to snorkel with the sea lions.  It was wonderful.  We really like this tour company and would have liked to have done all our trips with them however they were fully booked on the last day trip we had planned.


On the boat ride we saw whales and dolphins..  very exciting !!!

Here is a video taken with our Gopro

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNSkt_EktxE


We also saw a White Tipped Reef Shark.  This was our first time seeing a shark while snorkeling.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GWIExAkNaQ














Today we celebrated our 25th Anniversary..  We got a taxi and did the High Land Tour.  Just finding a taxi was a lot less money than going through a tour agency.  You will not have a problem finding a taxi.  They are white pickups and there are A LOT of them.













We had a great dinner for our anniversary..  






Our next day trip was to Bartholomew Island to see the penguins again with Santa Fe.  We only saw a few penguins and today the water was SUPER rough... made for a long trip to/from

Here is a QUICK video of a couple penguins.  They are VERY fast

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXMkqjjIIRk











Penguins

Penguins

Today we had another free day on Santa Cruz.  I planned it where we would have a free day in between tours.
 We visited the Fish Market (well.. we did this almost everyday :) )

We also several Blue Footed Boobies feeding down by the main pier .  So much fun to watch.





















Our last day trip was to North Seymour with Galapagos Travel Center.
We went here to see the blue Footed Boobies and the Frigate Birds.  We also snorkeled here however didn't stay in the water too long.  While we were getting in the smaller boat to go to the snorkel site we say a Galapagos Shark and a Hammer Head.  It kinda dampened the snorkeling for me.. I know sharks are in the ocean, but I prefer NOT to see them that close.. LOL
 https://www.galapagosislands.com/index.php

















Our last day in Santa cruz we went to Las Grietas and walked around Puerto Ayora.  It rained in the afternoon on our last day which was nice.  Gave us time to pack.










Out and About in Puerto Ayora





























We loved the sights and sounds of the city..  It was a great vacation ... great memories..

We had an overnight stay in Quito the next day.  We stayed at Hotel Casa de Hacienda La Jimentia.  Here is my review....


We really LOVED this hotel..  it rained the whole time we were there so it limited our visiting all the grounds but what we were able to see it was AMAZING!














My tips and thoughts on Galapagos

GO!!  It is an amazing place and if you ever thought about going you should

Plan way ahead.....  Tours book up fast.  You need to plan a year in advance  (my thoughts)

Go on boat tours even if you get motion sickness.  I have this TERRIBLE..  however I used sea bands and Bonnie tablets and I was fine even in rough waters.

Cash is a good thing..  we did find credit cards were used in most restaurants and bigger grocery stores .

It is VERY HOT.. I cannot stress this enough..  Bring long sleeves, umbrella, and extra sunblock... you need to reapply a lot,

The bread on Santa Cruz was the best bread I have ever had.  There are a lot of mini marts on every corner and a couple supermarkets.  We had a condo where we had a full kitchen so we cooked breakfast and dinner most evenings

You do not need to rent a car..  walk or taxi is fine.  I would advise you to set up transfers to/from airport

Internet is SLOW and that was wonderful!!  A break was a great thing from social media!

Time stands still there.............  well.. it felt like it..  it was MAGICIAL!