After our time on Isabela island, it was time for one last speedboat ride back to Santa Cruz. This was built up to be the worst of the rides as it was the longest and also went against the current a bit meaning it was a lot choppier. In the end, we were pretty lucky and the journey passed relatively quickly and Sue was able to celebrate no more boat rides*
* until the next one which we’ll inevitably end up doing somewhere!
As we’d already been on Santa Cruz, our guide Dario suggested a short walk to one of the best beaches in the world. I’d visited Siesta Keys in Sarasota County which I think was voted the top beach in the world so I had pretty high standards for beaches. All the same we set off to Tortuga Bay on what we thought was going to be a short walk but instead turned out to be a hour’s walk in the searing heat with pretty much no shade along the way!
Once we did arrive at Tortuga Bay, you could see why people bothered with the walk to get out to the beach, it was absolutely stunning with pristine white sand (plus the obligatory iguanas). You can’t actually swim on this main beach as the currents are very strong. This didn’t deter some hardy local surfers who made the most of the waves but we opted to go around the corner to the much more sheltered [cove]. The greatest advantage of this was that we were able to shelter under some of the mangroves. This did, however, come with the significant risk of some of Darwin’s famous finches deciding to take liberties from their perch above us!
After repeating the long trek back, we hit the town for our last meal as a group on Galapagos. It was perhaps quite apt given how sunburnt I’d managed to get earlier in the day, that most of us chose to have lobster that night! Rather than heading to a restaurant, we went up to Kiosk Street where there are loads of places to eat with tables lain out on the street.
For $20 I was able to get a whole lobster with a huge plate of rice and chips! It was definitely a great meal to finish up Galapagos with.
We’ve since found out from talking to some of the guys on our Inca Trail trip that this is definitely the best place to eat on Santa Cruz!
Back to Quito
The next morning it was back on the plane to fly over to Quito (with the standard stop in Guayaquil). The airport is on an island called Baltra a short boat ride✝ (literally 50m) from Santa Cruz. It’s quite a weird place which used to a be a US base during World War II and doesn’t really have anything living on it. Apparently there’s weird things like compasses not working there and animals even when left not the island swimming back across the Ithaca Channel to return to Santa Cruz.
✝ told you there’d be another boat soon!
We landed in the afternoon and were so knackered that after a short stop for a bite to eat, we didn’t really do much more that day other than catch up with sleep. The next day we decided to join one of our fellow travellers who had arranged for a taxi to take him around the city to see some of the key sights. Given the size of Quito, its altitude and its very hilly nature – this was a great way to see the city. The altitude actually had quite a big effect with Quito being at 2,850m above sea level – even simple tasks like walking up some stairs with bags became difficult!
The city has some stunning locations – mainly churches if we’re honest – but the city can be seen best by visiting the large statue of the Virgin Mary positioned over the city.
We were so knackered that after a short stop for a bite to eat, we didn’t really do much more that day other than catch up with sleep. The next day we decided to join one of our fellow travellers who had arranged for a taxi to take him around the city to see some of the key sights. Given the size of Quito, its altitude and its very hilly nature – this was a great way to see the city. The city has some stunning locations – mainly churches if we’re honest – but the city can be seen best by visiting the large statue of the Virgin Mary, El Panecillo, positioned over the city.
South American churches are amazing to see, they are all catholic churches so are decorated to the hilt. They are very different from the churches we’ve seen in Europe and definitely different to the ones in Ireland. One of the churches we saw in Quito, Compañía de Jesús was completed coated in gold leaf! The Basílica del Voto Nacional is also well worth a look with some incredible towers and beautiful stained glass windows.
After our brief tour, it was time to head back to the airport for our 10th flight of the trip so far flying down to Lima for the start of our Inca Odyssey (11 and 12 and 13 were all to follow fairly quickly after this!).