Our Galápagos Islands cruise begins

January 11th

Woke up to take advantage of the views from our hotel room balcony.

There in the harbour to our delight was our catamaran, the Archipell II.

Hotel Espana didn’t have a dining room but had organised a deal with the Abra Cadabra cafe just down the street so off we went with our breakfast vouchers in hand. As it was a warm morning we sat outside in their garden. We had juice, eggs and croissants. Karen drank tea too. After breakfast we decided to chase up our luggage so off we walked to LATAM’s office. One of their staff rang on our behalf. Our luggage had not been found yet but he was confident it would turn up. Back at the hotel we discovered an email from our travel advisor, Veronica, who had also followed up, saying the backpacks had been found at Quito airport. LATAM didn’t want to send them to Galápagos though because they had only been tagged to Quito. By this time our driver had come to pick us up and take us to the port to join our cruise ship so we would have to sort it later. On our arrival at the wharf we met Luis, our naturalist guide. He knew about our luggage problem too! Just then Veronica rang him and I chatted with her too. By this time a zodiac and driver had come to take us out to the Archipel II. Two young American girls, Anna and Lila, joined us.  On arrival we were welcomed on board with a welcome drink and snack. Before entering the boat we had to take our shoes off and put them onto a shoe rack. Luis showed us to our cabins. We were in the Albatross cabin.

After unpacking the small amount of gear we had, we returned to the dining area to meet our fellow travellers for lunch. Seven other Americans had already been on the boat for three days/2 nights. Two other couples soon arrived too. Lunch was buffet style. There was lots to eat, hot and cold food, savoury and desserts. After lunch we boarded the zodiacs which took us to the wharf where we were guided to a minibus and drove to the highlands of Santa Cruz island to a private ecological ranch, El Chato 2 Ranch,

with giant tortoises grazing,

roaming

and mud bathing.

As they are free to roam they make sure they treat themselves to a good environment. Several other groups were looking around too.

Part way through our walk around the park we came to a lava tunnel so we walked down and through the lava tunnel.

Our group of fifteen were already mixing well, and our lovely guide, Luis, gave us lots of detail in a friendly manner. Apparently the giant tortoises on each of the islands have slight differences due to adapting to their environment. After our walking tour we had a short time to explore more, chat or buy a drink before heading back to Puerto Ayora in the mini bus. One other couple from the US, Mark and Erin, also had one lost bag. On our return to town we had some spare time to quickly shop for toiletries and I also bought a pair of cheap boardshorts. When the others returned to the boat Luis helped us and Mark and Erin follow up on our missing bags at the LATAM office. The two LATAM staff responded well to Luis but it became obvious we wouldn’t have our gear until we returned to Puerto Ayora after the cruise. Frustrating, shattering, what can we say. Our dream holiday was off to a nightmare start! Oh well, at least we now had two changes of clothes. Plus our naturalist guide had won us over quickly with his knowledgeable, friendly, helpful manner.

After taking the zodiac back to the catamaran we arrived back on board in time for a welcome drink to meet all the crew. They looked very resplendent in their uniforms. Next we had a lovely buffet dinner in the dining room followed by poached pear for dessert.  

A beer for me and tea for Karen and good conversation help us stay awake but we were very tired. After a shower and a seasick pill we hit the bed. Apparently as boats cross from Santa Cruz to Isabela island it can be quite wavy on the water. Our night time navigation started about ten thirty and there was a lot of movement so the seasick pills we bought at the pharmacy in Puerto Ayora were a good investment. Very rocky but we soon got to sleep.

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