At the end of the summer, we took a quick trip to San Juan Island. In the evenings, we went out looking for the animals that inhabit the grasslands: rabbits, foxes, owls, and deer. The animals weren’t super cooperative, and got within good photo range only when the light was really low. I pushed the camera and the lenses I had in the twilight, but love some of the shots I got. They remind me of watercolor paintings in children’s books.
Since they straddle the Equator, I expected the Galápagos to be hot, humid, and tropical. It was not, and this was great news for a family that isn’t really into tropical weather. If given the choice, we generally head north. There are roughly two seasons in the Galápagos: the warm, wet season and the cool, dry season. The warm, wet season runs from December until May and the cool, dry season runs from June until November. The weather patterns are a result of the complicated interplay of tradewinds and the currents that swirl around the islands. The hot season is quite warm, with rain falling nearly every day. When we were there, (late June to early July) however, the weather was dominated by the Humboldt Current, which sweeps north from Antarctica and eventually reaches the islands.
Rábida Island is a small island near the center of the Galápagos archipelago. The sand on its beaches and the soil elsewhere are red due to the high iron content of this particular island’s volcano. The contrast between blue sea and sky, red soil, and white palo santo trees was stunning. We tasted wild tomatoes and hiked up to a beautiful viewpoint. This was one of my favorite sites.
As we rode the ferry across the Itabaca Channel, frigatebirds were one of the first birds we saw. They seem to be everywhere. They soar above the islands, their distinctive silhouettes making them easy to identify.
Although we saw frigatebirds before boarding our ship, we got really up close and personal with them on North Seymour Island on the first afternoon of our cruise. North Seymour Island is just north of Baltra Island (where the airport is) and was the first site we visited. We didn’t know what, exactly, to expect. We were in awe at what we saw there: the island was teeming with nesting, mating, and chick-rearing frigatebirds and blue-footed boobies (more on them later).
Given the protests happening throughout Ecuador, we were not going to truly relax until we got onto our cruise ship. We asked the folks at Metropolitan Touring if they could arrange for us to fly into the Galápagos earlier than planned. They were able to switch our flights and find a hotel for us, and we were on our way. We were met at the Quito airport by a representative of Metropolitan Touring, who had our boarding passes and who walked us through check in and a biological screening of our baggage.
The flight from Quito to the Galapagos took around 3.5 hours, with a stop in Guayaquil. Those continuing on to the islands wait on the plane while more passengers embark.
We watched anxiously out the window of the plane, hoping to catch a glimpse of the storied islands. Our first views did not disappoint: turquoise blue water, puffy white clouds, beaches, and rugged coastlines. G. and I took photos with my phone as we approached the airport.
Our trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos did not start quite the way we’d expected. Our plan was to begin the trip with four nights in Quito’s old historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We arrived at the Quito airport after midnight. While we were still in customs waiting for our bags, a woman approached us and suggested that we might want to stay in the airport: due to the protests, nobody was able to get into Quito, and that it was a challenge to even find a place to sleep.
As my first post, let me introduce our family. We’re the Kunens: Laura and Isaac, and our two kids, E. (12) and G. (10). We love to travel and we love to take photos. We began this blog to share our adventures and photos without the usual social media sites. We started this primarily as a way to share with family and friends, but we hope this blog makes its way to other families who love to travel, want to hear others’ travel stories, or are researching travel adventures of their own.
While spending 2020/21 locked in Covid purgatory, we started to dream of a big, fancy trip. We asked the kids for ideas and our oldest, E., immediately suggested the Galápagos Islands. He’d done a report on marine iguanas, endemic to the Galápagos, in early elementary school and has wanted to see them in person since. We did a little research, and the decision was made. We would visit Quito, Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands. The trip didn’t go exactly as planned; let’s just say we were glad that we’d booked with a reputable travel agency instead of going it ourselves.