The Galapagos Archipelago

The Galapagos are a chain of volcanic islands in the Pacific ocean, located 500 miles off the coast of Ecuador to whom they belong. Of the 19 larger islands, only four are inhabited at all, with a population of just 30,000 people. Half of these live on the island of Santa Cruz. There are a total of 127 smaller islands/islets, many no more then glorified rocks sticking up out of the sea. Isolated by winds and currents, the Galapagos is home to many unique animal species that can be found nowhere else including giant tortoises, flightless cormorants, and blue-footed boobies. Best known as the place that inspired Charles Darwin’s theories on evolution, they are absolutely unique on planet Earth. Quito, Ecuador was our gateway to the islands. A very pretty mountain city, we took some time to view spectacular volcanoes and enjoy the hospitality of the Hilton Colon Quito– one of the best-run hotels I have ever stayed at. Our Avianca flight to Baltra Island took about two hours. ( Note : There are some special rules for flying to the Galapagos–not terribly complicated but very poorly explained by the Ecuadoran government on-line, so I’ve bottom- lined it for you toward the end of this piece

under “Galapagos Entry.”) The entry process at Baltra Airport was fairly quick, not more than 10-15 extra minutes. There’s a short bus ride to a ferry terminal to cross the straight to the Santa Cruz Island, and then a choice of a bus ($5 per person) or a taxi ($25 total) to get to Puerto Ayora where most of the hotels and hostels are clustered. Hotel Acacia Galapagos. One of the white pick-up trucks that function as taxis on Santa Cruz deposited us at the Hotel Acacia Galapagos. This pretty little place is everything a boutique hotel should be, located just a short half-block off of the main drag of the small waterfront. The reception area opens up into a walled white courtyard with a few trees, a pleasant little pool, and a breakfast area. The small staff, led by Carolina, is very welcoming and greets visitors with a fruit drink and an iced towel. The rooms are not large but very well- designed and comfortable with powerful air conditioning, WiFi is by Starlink that works very well, and the breakfasts are cooked to order, have multiple courses and are really excellent. Another huge bonus: laundry service at $2 per kilo that was ready in less than a day. Overall it’s a very tranquil and relaxing place and I recommend it highly.

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