Santa Cruz

Day nine/ten: Darwin, Santa Cruz, Galápagos


We plan in a couple of quiet days on Santa Cruz, allowing for home learning catch up, general downtime and some battery recharging. One day the children work on a project about tortoises and turtles with the finale being a tortoise race (using our empty backpacks, two ten sided dice, some simple subtraction and a very long tiled lounge floor as the race track).


Another time they watch a DVD on Darwin (still counts as home learning, right?) and another time they research and create a PowerPoint presentation on The Galápagos Islands and present it to us, while we are instructed to sit on one of the lined up dining chairs.

IMG_7580We find a better version of a fruit and vegetable market for some supplies and buy eggs in bags (who sells eggs in bags?). A precarious $1 taxi journey later and the eggs make it back safely.

DSC_4872We walk over to the Charles Darwin Research Station to see their tortoise breeding programme. We are few years too late to meet Solitario Jorge/Lonesome George unfortunately – but it’s a nice place and would have been significantly more impressive if we hadn’t been to the giant tortoise ranch yesterday. Medium sized tortoises now all seem a bit… well… a bit… meh. Second week and we’re already spoilt.


What was impressive was a group of over 20 large black sea iguanas crossing the road on their way back from a day’s feeding session, just outside the institution gates – unexpected and amazing.

We decide to do a second trip out to Tortuga Bay and give ourselves enough time to walk the extra distance to a beautiful calm bay, set back a little from the ocean. We walk between eight and nine kilometres today; – more pelicans and more large black sea iguanas – clearly they’re becoming the norm as we’re now just stepping over them.

IMG_7599At the bay, we bump into a young German couple we’d met on the Santa Fe boat trip yesterday – apparently they have been contemplating our ages in the last 24 hours and calculating at what age they too should have children. They put us both at less than forty. Happy.

Incidentally, after all the talk of Darwin and the theory of evolution, it took exactly two days for our son, L, to come and ask what was invented first; the theory of evolution or God? And was God invented in the way that Darwin says things were invented…. That one took a little while.


– 1 sock, probably didn’t make it back from the launderette.

Day six: The Galapagos Islands


We had our photo taken on the plane today. All five of us sat in a row and all happened to be using technology. One of us was creating a movie, one editing photos, two were reading books and one was building a hotel in Minecraft.

Seat-24A-lady reclined her chair as far as it could go, lent through the gap to try and quietly take a photo but the shutter-noise gave her away. Protective of our family, I gave her a look and in broken English said she was interested that we were all using technology and would I mind a photo. So, now a total stranger has a photo of our family. I find that odd.

Incidentally, the children gave our choice of Quito guest house a two or three out of ten. A bit harsh, but matching sheets and our own bathroom might have increased the score.

Today we travel to The Galapagos. We decided against a pre-booked cruise or land tour (to lower costs and increase our length of stay) and instead opted to go solo. We booked flights via Skyscanner and accommodation via Airbnb. We bought one way tickets and 7 nights accommodation has been secured in Santa Cruz. Our next commitment is a flight from Quito to Lima in 15 days time, so we just need to meander our way back in time for that.

A relatively short flight from Quito via Guayaquil and we land in Baltra, one of the islands north of Santa Cruz to be met by ‘Freddy’ a contact picked up at the ‘two or three out of ten guest house’. On exit we clearly don’t fit the usual demographic. The airport is full of backpackers in their twenties as they all watch our family walk by – seeing children outside of term time is clearly a curiosity.

They are strict on what we bring onto the islands to help preserve the national park. The plane cabin is sprayed, our hand luggage is x-rayed for contaminates on arrival and we walk through a more tasteful version of the council swimming pool foot bath – black wet rubber mats, so discrete, you may not even notice.

IMG_7478I cannot describe this place. Our eyes are in sensory overload. The terrain is like nothing I’ve ever come across before. Red earth, grey grass, bright green cactus plants, turquoise sea, crisp blue sky, black rocks, red rocks, white trees, orange and black iguanas. Then you reach the towns – much less exciting. The bus stops abruptly to let a huge iguana cross the road (I swear, I’m not making this up). Then a further quick swerve to avoid three cows. Within our first thirty minutes we have seen stunning vibrant landscapes, crabs, iguanas, cows, several brightly coloured small birds, herons, pelicans. I’m already wondering how the rest of the trip can top this. As first impressions go, this is pretty impressive.


  • You will need to pay $100 + $10 entry fee (each adult, $60 for children) on arrival. They only take cash.
  • It can go from burning hot sun to rain within an hour. Wear sunblock and pack a rain coat every day.
  • Definitely bring rain covers for your backpacks – they are usually thrown in the back of open trucks and on top of boats – they will get wet.
  • Try to get hold of the arrival forms (two types) before arrival as they take forever to complete.

Items lost:

  • Kids refillable water bottle – probably left in the taxi in Quito.