There is huge hype round these islands.
And there is no doubt they are a stunning, magical piece of Volcanic action.
People say its the most amazing place they have ever been.
So your expectation level can go wayyyyyy up and then you get there and think, yeah its nice, but I have been to other nice places.
There are two kinds of holiday maker there.
The I am on vacation for 2 weeks and have a years spending money escaping the rat race, or the Backpacker working on a budget which happened to be me this trip.
It is $20 to get out of Quito, and the $100 when you arrive at Baltra, nice surprise.
That pissed me off to start with, why 2 payments.
Then there is all the palava about conservation, bug sprays in the overhead cabins in the aircraft, and checking the mud on your boots when you leave and go to another islands.
Seriously guys? We know that makes zero difference to anything.
When you arrive in the airport its another big palava where all the bags are put together and the dog walks over the top of them all. I assume thats for drugs, but they do it in a very formal, important way.
It was much more like US approach, they are doing a lot but actually doing nothing.
Airport security etc brings out the worst in me, and humans, moving your perfume into a see through bag and kidding ourcellves on that we are tackling terrorism. They kid on they are tackling conservation, or something Im not sure, its bollocks anyway.
In Scotland we have off the scale wildlife. No palalva going there, no unseen charges, no fee to get on our islands, no spraying of foreigners, or kidding on that we are checking their shoes, it all seems like a bit of a brand exercise.
And if you sail in they want your hull scrubbed 2 miles off. Really, what exactly is that going to achieve. More rules for rules sake if you ask me.
I met a film maker from the USEG US enviromnental group. He was there to film a beach clean up, to talk to the locals about conservation etc, but it turns out one of the big pollutants here are the Asian boats who dump everything and anything from their boats way out at sea, that affects the islands. The plastic pollution is an issue in all our waters now and Galapagos is no different. Not the mud from my boots or yours for that matter.
We are all in this together, no point in one Country doing everything if others are blatantly disregarding Nature and our wildlife.
Now dont get me wrong it is beautiful, barren, green, volcanic and stunning all at the same time, but for me the main attraction here is the diving and snorkelling.
And I was a bit underwhelmed.
Coming from Mompiche which has the cleanest beach I have ever seen,and the stunning jungle all around, I was already high on the beauty of the Planet.
I have been blessed to dive round the World, and it was not the best by a long shot for me.
The visibility was poor and again it was super expensive to dive. $250 US for a try dive and 2 dives at Kicker Rock. One with no air lol.
The best 2 days I had was snorkelling close to the island in a bay where the visibility was a bit better. I got to swim with the giant turtles and it was magical.
Kicker Rock was immense, a huge challenge and a world famous dive, but really you could not see much. Apart from the massive shoal of fish we danced with, that was awesome.
I saw white tipped and hammer head sharks but they were shadows with the low viz.
Not what I expected, but thats Nature for you, there is a bit of luck involved.
The people were super nice and friendly, but I spent a lot of time on my own due to me not speaking Spanish and not being in a dorm, where all the other lone travellers are.
And there is a feeling that because you are white the price goes up.
In Isabella there are some really cool beach bars, and in Santa Marta the main island there are some really good restaurants, so that made me happy.
The other thing that you should know is the ferries are not really ferries. They are big cruise boats, around maybe 30ft with 3 x 200 horsepower engines behind them.
This makes them fast but super uncomfortable in big weather.
I had someone spewing on both sides of me, and it can be a 2.5 hour trip. Its your luck if you get to be in the fresh air outside the boat, but only a 1/3 of people can fit there, the rest are inside, in the hot, smelly, boat.
Some boats are better than others, so if you were there with kids, or anyone who gets sea sick, really bear this in mind, it is not pleasant.
On the dive day, an older lady, even older than me, came on to snorkel with her son.
She should NEVER have been sold that trip, the boat was tiny, rocking all over the place, 8 divers getting their kit on and off 3 times, and she was stuck out ther all day vomiting. Her poor son just sat with his arm over her, a shit day for both of them and I could have told you it would be, so these guys should have known. There is no land or shelter out there and it was shit for snotkelling too due to huge swell.
Running out of air 12 metres down
It is still not clear why I ran out of air on my second dive at the famous Kicker Rock.
The Dive Master wanted me to believe I drank it all, but no way. The first dive was 48 mins we came back up with 600. I ran out after around 25 mins at a much shallower depth and was totally relaxed, until I realised what had happened.
There are different reasons it could happen, it was never discussed.
He immediately gave me his spare, but we had to surface a bit early bobbing about in huge swell, no boat in sight, I had to practise letting go, big time.
There was chaos on the boat, changing the cylinders for the second dive and I did think hmmmm potential for mix up here, and the crew fixed you all up, helped you get on the ledge, turned on air, did half assed check, but 8 divers is a lot on a small boat.
I actually felt sorry for the guy, what an enormous responsibility.
And the crazy thing is I did not question the safety, not at booking, not on the boat, which was stupid, and after speaking to others after the event, they had had issues with this company.
He was cool though, the second I showed him my reading, he grabbed his spare, and the dive continued for another 10 mins or so. He was clearly very experienced and really made me and Paulina the other female feel very safe despite this situation,
I had a similar safetly experience later on back on the mainland when I went zip lining.
I just assumed it would be safe, and the guy handed me 2 metal blocks and sent me up to the wire which stretched across the canyon.
I just assumed someone would be there to help me, then had to shout the guy up to help.
I realised after that my life was in the hands of these two young guys who actuallly worked the braking system by hand.
Anyway,still here telling all the tales, then it was the Ayuhuasca story,
Watch this space lol
Kicker Rock dive below.