Galápagos Day 1: Baltra Island & South Plaza

by | Nov 9, 2022 | Galápagos Islands, November 2022: Galápagos Islands | 0 comments

 

Our Galápagos adventure begins! 

After a full day in Guayaquil, we woke up at 6:30am and headed first thing in the morning to GYE airport on the domestic side. Once arriving at departures, we registered and paid the $100 USD in cash (they only accept cash)( for the National Park entry fee at a special counter almost camouflaged among row of your typical airline check-in counters — it’s kinda right in the middle by Counter 17.

They take down your info and will ask for your proof of return flight so you don’t end up staying in Galapagos for too long.

 

 

We then showed proof of purchase and our flight ticket at security, after which we relaxed for an hour at the Sala VIP lounge thanks to Priority Pass access.

 

 

We then took off at 9:16am in the morning on Latam Flight 1413, landing after a 2 hour flight in Baltra Island at 10:14am local time (Galapagos is one hour behind).

 

 

Once a World War II Air Force base, Baltra Island is now the primary airport for the Galápagos Islands. And it’s not only for tourists; there are also international naturalists, conservationists, researchers, academics, and Galápagos residents who use this airport as their main point of arrival. 

The airport has also been built as the world’s first “green” airport, having relied on only recycled materials in its construction; its design allows the interior to stay cool without the need for any air conditioning.

 

 

We then proceeded through immigrations where we paid another $20 USD in cash for our immigration control card. Even if you’re technically still in Ecuador, they stamp your passport in!

 

 

After baggage claims and at the Arrivals lounge we were met by our naturalist guide Renny. 

Once all 14 of us were together, we boarded the shuttle buses waiting for us outside arrivals to take us to the Baltra Dock… (pro-tip, sit on the left side for better views)

 

 

…after which we waited about 10 minutes for our 2 dinghies to take us to our ship, the Bonita, built specifically for the Galápagos.

 

 

The ship carries a maximum of 20 passengers and we were lucky to snag a larger room for 2 for our cabin, conveniently right by the saloon.

 

 

Once on board, the crew introduced themselves followed by a welcome briefing and quick safety drill. We then set sail right after having lunch, during which pelicans trailed our yacht as a welcome to the Galápagos.

 

 

After a 2 hour siesta during the sail, we set off for our first landing and hike around South Plaza, home to a large number of species and formed as the result of a geological uplift.

 

 

Due to uneven surfaces, they both have cliffs on their south sides and low lying shores on their northern coasts.

 

 

The most conspicuous of South Plaza’s residents are the native (and very confident) Galápagos Sea Lions, who have a large colony here.

 

 

Less so are the land iguanas (the smallest in the islands), many marine iguanas and large numbers and varieties of seabirds.

 

 

Inland is a mix of vegetation and giant opuntia cactus forest, providing food for all the iguanas. Some are being regrown (which will take centuries) due to a recent rat infestation from neighboring Santa Cruz.

 

 

As we followed the circular hiking trail we came to the summit of the cliffs and found countless nesting seabirds, including the Galápagos’ native and famous blue-footed boobies.

 

 

After a 2 hour stroll, we then returned to our ship for dinner and overnight.

 334 total views

 

- At time of posting in Baltra Island, it was 27 °C - Humidity: 52% | Wind Speed: 34km/hr | Cloud Cover: sunny

 

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