2,5 perfect and extraordinary weeks in Ecuador and Galapagos

Today I present to you and yours the surreal Galapagos Islands - and an extraordinary and new way to experience Galapagos 

I look back on an unforgettable family trip to Ecuador and Galapagos.

And this journey reminds me and you and you why you, you, me, we travel in the first place. For me, travel has always started with curiosity: with the desire to discover something new. In the world. In me. In my family. Us. Because in the mirror of the unfamiliar, you suddenly see yourself more clearly. That's why I'm telling you today about our trip to Ecuador and Galapagos: let's look back together to look forward.

Bring back the Galapagos! But have the Galapagos been gone? Partially, yes. And here's how: for millennia, the epic Galapagos Islands have developed in isolation about 1,000 km off the coast of South America.

As we all know due to the great Charles Darwin, they are a place of extreme importance due to the biodiversity of wildlife and the absence of human influence. Since the pioneering exploration in 1835, the interest of travelers around the world is also growing.

Ecuador has worked hard in recent years to ensure the preservation of this special archipelago. And while for many years the way of choice to experience the Galapagos has been the large yacht or cruise ship, there is now a new, alternative and wonderful way to experience what the Galapagos Islands are really all about.

But let's start at the beginning of the trip: A trip to Galapagos almost inevitably starts on the Ecuadorian mainland - either in Quito, or in Guayaquil, because that's the only place from where the planes take off to the Galapagos Islands in the morning.

And if you've already landed on mainland Ecuador, you might as well spend some time there, right?

All of Ecuador, including the Galapagos Islands, is a wonderful example of the combination of nature and culture. And the best way to experience the facets of this wonderful country is to go deep into nature. And then there meet people who give you access.


For example, in the Amazonas of Ecuador. By short flight and dugout canoe trip you go deep into the green lungs of our world and to remote indigenous tribes who run a wonderful Amazon Lodge here, which allow immersion in the peculiarities of nature and culture of the Amazon. You'll learn to shoot poison darts, spot sloths, fish for piranhas and much more necessary for survival in this extreme nature.

Cloud Forest

Having already experienced the Amazon in both Brazil, Peru and Ecuador, this time we travel to the Nearforest, a few hours' drive through stunning landscapes and ending up on bumpy dirt roads away from Quito.

In the middle of this waterfall and liana-covered paradise rises an almost futuristic-looking glassy design lodge, whose construction and operation were and are committed to sustainability.

Through the concept we experience a merging of inside and outside and feel part of this vast nature. During the day we hike or ride a spacey cable car through the tops of the trees and experience this wonderful part of the world from a bird's eye view. A spectacular adventure. .

Road of the Volcanoes: Cotopaxi and Chimborazo

We experience a stark contrast in scenery on the Road of Volcanoes - that part of Ecuador steeped in history that Humboldt also made famous with his attempts to climb Chimborazo, which he considered the highest mountain on earth at the time.

We "only" climb Cotopaxi ???? And are otherwise family friendly with hikes and horseback rides through this calming yet stirring lunar landscape.

We hike around Laguna Limpiopungo, the Santo Domingo lagoon surrounded by Inca stone walls, climb the Sunfana lookout and visit the small Mariscal Sucre Museum. Homebase is a stylish private hacienda with its own horse breeding. 

Galapagos: Santa Cruz

And then it's finally time: we get on the plane to my son Levi's dream destination: the Galapagos Islands. And: we experience the surreal island world just not from the board of a yacht or a cruise ship, but live on the islands: Island hopping Galapagos! Because: to connect with the land of Galapagos and the people who live there, you have to enter the land and meet the people.

In this sense also my motto "Galapagos is back!". We enter the islands again, we live on the islands and do not just sail from highlight to highlight. The experience and the experience is thus even more intense and gripping!

And since this is a very new development, the accommodations and the experiences here set quite great new standards in terms of sustainability and ecotourism. So the development is going back to the island to go forward.

Our accommodation is a small private reserve right on the ocean. The iguanas are on the volcanic rocks that line our private bay, the sea lions on our jetty. Caution is advised. Nature rules here. 

At the huge beach Tortuga Bay we spot blue-footed boobies, giant groups of iguanas, sea turtles and dolphins. From the table of the evening restaurant we see how small sharks go hunting.

Besides, on board of our private small yacht we experience the best excursions ex Santa Cruz: Seymore to the "blown up" Fregate Birds and the beautiful yellowish Landiguanas. And a romantic secret beach in the north of Santa Cruz.

As well as to San Bartholomä to the most famous panorama of the Galapagos Islands. Including numerous animal sightings and swimming breaks. 

Galapagos: Isabela

Isabela is my favorite island of the Galapagos archipelago: it is the largest of the islands and also the most sparsely populated.

Has the most spectacular and longest sandy beach where we swim and surf with rays, dolphins, sea turtles, small sharks and of course the iguanas. There is a great surf wave.

And: beautiful hikes to Sierra Negra volcano and Chico volcano. The kids ride horses. And: snorkeling at Los Tunneles - is cold - but spectacular. And we compensate the kids with an extended fishing break.

We arrange for a chef to set up a table on the beach and treat us to delicious food. On the other days we take turns to eat at the 3 best beach restaurants. More I do not need???? We are at this time the only travelers on the island. A dream.

The sports island: San Cristobal

If you want to inhale even more Galapagos feeling, I recommend San Cristobal. We visited "the sporty one", as Sna Cristobal is also called, as part of another trip and still remember it often: we went surfing and biking.

Have experienced and enjoyed Kicker Rock, Islas Manglecitos and Islas Lobos. Pure adventure and nature. 

From the sea back to the land, In Galapagos we go back to go forward. And we feel great about it. And free. And: besides the spectacular landscape and the most unusual unique animals, we have the chance to meet exciting people.

Which tell us and make us feel what it means to live with nature and really protect it. 

There are different types of accommodation: tree houses, safari tents, private lodges, luxury villas, boutique hotels. There's something very surreal about waking up and stepping out onto your tent porch and hearing the slow crunch of a giant tortoise having breakfast below you.

While looking at a landscape that is the origin of the theory of evolution. 

Why all this is also so important

The Galapagos have been open to tourism since 1965, when Seymour Airport on Baltra went from being a World War II runway to a gateway for travelers. Since that moment, demand for this unique experience has naturally continued to grow. The Galapagos secret is out.

And like any place of extreme human interest, it is our responsibility to care for the ecosystem there and preserve it for future generations. In a way that is good for wildlife, locals and travelers alike.

And like any place of extreme human interest, it is our responsibility to care for the ecosystem there and preserve it for future generations. In a way that is good for wildlife, locals and travelers alike.

Preserving our natural and cultural heritage is critical to human health.

How many islands make up the Galapagos Islands?

The islands of Galapago are an archipelago consisting of more than 100 larger and smaller islands and some rocks protruding from the sea. They were formed mainly by volcanic eruptions.

In total there are 13 main islands, these are in alphabetical order Baltra, Española, Fernandina, Floreana, Genovesa, Isabela, Marchena, Pinta, Pinzon, San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, Santa Fe and Santiago.

The largest of these islands is Isabela. This occupies about half of the total land area of the Galapagos archipelago. There is also the volcano Wolf, which with its height of a little more than 1,700 meters is also the highest point of the Galapagos Islands.

The airports that are used to travel from Ecuador are located on the two islands of Baltra and San Cristobal. There is also an airport on Isabela, from which it is possible to travel to the other islands of the archipelago.

Four of the islands of the archipelago are inhabited by people, and the areas outside the settlements have also been declared a national park since 1959. In addition, the islands are surrounded by a marine protected area, which was created in 1986.

With its current area of approximately 133,000 square kilometers, it is even the largest marine protected area on our planet.

How to get to the Galapagos Islands?

To travel to the Galapagos Islands, first of all you have to get to the mainland of Ecuador. The archipelago does not have an international airport, so it is not possible to travel directly from other countries.

Flights to the archipelago, which lies about 1,000 kilometers west of the Pacific coast of South America, are both from the Ecuadorian capital Quito, although a stopover is made in Guayaquil. For this reason, you can also board the plane there.

Most of the flights to the Galapagos Islands are either early in the morning or in the evening. So you will most likely also spend a night on the mainland if you want to go on this great adventure.

The flight from Quito takes about two and a half hours, in Guayaquil there is also an interruption of about 45 minutes. So you should remember that you do not get off here, but only at the two airports of the Galapagos Islands, which are located on Baltra and on San Cristobal.

It is also possible to get to the Galapagos Archipelago by sea. You can go there by ship from Guayaquil, but the trip takes at least three days. In addition, these are mostly cargo ships, so you should not expect a particularly high level of comfort.

Overall, the air way is the much better option to get to the archipelago of the Galapagos Islands. Especially the shorter travel distance and that this variant is also much more comfortable, makes the plane the much better choice.

Furthermore, the price of traveling by cargo ship is just as high as that of a flight. So you don't save any money either if you choose this way of travel.

Is it even allowed to visit the Galapagos Islands in 2021?

The Galapagos Islands are freely accessible to any visitor. The approximately 170,000 tourists who make a trip to the Galapagos Islands every year alone testify to the fact that almost without any problems may visit this archipelago.

Since the entry is done via Ecuador anyway, you hardly have to worry about possible entry regulations. This means that you only have to follow the rules for entering the mainland. For German citizens, this means that they need a passport, which is still valid for at least six months.

They do not need a visa if their stay is 90 days or less.

Nevertheless, there are a few things that should be taken into account if you want to visit the archipelago. Among other things, you must show a return ticket and also a confirmation of a hotel reservation that matches the date on the ticket for the return flight. Alternatively, you can present a letter of invitation, which must come from a resident of the Galapagos Islands.

The uninhabited islands under strict control. There are tourist routes created with the utmost care, which keep visitors away from the protected zones.

Some places you can even visit only with a certified nature guide. These also run only on special marked trails, often about a kilometer or less.

Are there dangers in the Galapagos Islands?

On the whole, a vacation in the Galapagos Islands is rather safe. Crime is almost non-existent, and since there are also strict rules to protect the environment, hardly anything can happen to you there.

However, you should still use your common sense if you want to explore the islands on your own. Furthermore, it is advisable to stay on the given paths in any case.

Most accidents usually happen only when visitors disregard one of the given rules. Therefore, you should always look for signs that warn you about poisonous plants, for example. In addition, the terrain outside the designated trails is often rough and unpredictable.

But if you always stick to not leaving the established paths, then there are hardly any serious dangers for the visitors.

However, it may still be that some wild animals roam on these trails. Then, of course, it is better to keep your distance.

However, animal bites occur very rarely, at most some aggressive male sea lions along the beach pose a danger. Otherwise, there are no predators to be afraid of on the islands.

In the sea, on the other hand, sharks and sea urchins are also common. Also poisonous fish like the lionfish can be seen here more often. However, as long as you keep your distance, there is no danger.

And even though many assume that an encounter with a shark cannot end well, statistically even the attacks by sharks on humans are extremely rare.

The real danger is one that you unfortunately don't notice so obviously at the beginning. This is the sun, which is particularly aggressive here.

Even through the clothes you can get a sunburn. To prevent this risk, you should apply plenty of sunscreen accordingly. The sun protection factor should be at least 30.


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