Christopher Patrick, the CEO and owner of CKIM Group, was open minded about his upcoming trip to the Galapagos islands. He knew that the cold Humbolt Current coming up from Antarctica created a unique ecosystem around these islands. That ecosystem included giant tortoises hundreds of years old, seals and marine iguanas.
He also looked forward to learning more about the people that lived there and their culture.
Upon arrival in Guayaquil, a port city in Ecuador, Chris was impressed with how modern of an airport it was. There was a little bit of congestion going through customs and immigration, but altogether, it was not a bad experience.
Chris stayed at the local Courtyard by Marriott. The shuttle driver was waiting for him at the airport. While the driver was waiting for another passenger, Chris took the opportunity to buy a SIM card for his phone for $15. This would allow him to make calls and send texts in the Galapagos as well since the islands are part of Ecuador.
Chris received a warm welcome at the hotel and the woman working the front desk recommended that he take the 8am airport shuttle for his flight to San Cristobal.
When Chris got to the airport, his flight was cancelled due to the protests occurring throughout the country against austerity measures put in place by President Lenín Moreno.
Chris managed to rebook his flights. He flew with Avianca, a Colombian airline. The crew were pleasant and from Ecuador.
Passing through San Cristobal Airport was simple and easy. All visitors are levied with the Galapagos National Park Entrance Fee ($100 USD) when entering the country.
Upon arriving at the villa, Chris was stunned by the surrounding beauty. The beach was filled with sea lions. The sound of the ocean, cool breeze and welcoming staff made the place very inviting.
Lunch was huge. Chris follows a vegan /plant-based diet, and there were more than enough food options for him, including Andean Bean Ceviche (it was delightful), vegetarian sushi rolls, an incredible salad, fruits and more. And lots of plantain! A staple in the Galapagos diet.
Soursop, a fruit native to the Americas and the Caribbean, was widely used as a fruit drink.
After lunch, Chris and his fellow colleagues hiked for 35 minutes to Cerro Tijeretas Cove for snorkeling. The water was super cold! Chris forgot his swim cap, which would have been ideal for the cooler waters. The group stopped at two beaches on the way back and got to see a bunch of sea lions.
Dinner at the villa that night was huge and filling. For Chris, there were incredible salads, vegetables, and more.
After dinner, Chris retired to his Master Villa, leaving the sliding door open and the shutters down. Chris thought Karin, his wife, would have loved it there. He felt that he could easily have stayed for a few more days there.
The next day, Chris enjoyed a huge breakfast and the group departed at 10:30 AM for an excursion to El Junco Lagoon, a lake in the highlands of San Cristóbal. The group was lucky. They had clear skies, cool temperatures and there weren’t that many people there.
After taking in the lagoon, the group went to the giant tortoise sanctuary. It was 15 minutes from El Junco. The group spent an hour exploring the sanctuary.
After leaving the sanctuary, the group drove to the port where they met the crew of Grand Majestic, a 127-foot motor yacht. Two tenders took the group to the yacht which was anchored in the bay.
Chris was pleasantly surprised at the Grand Majestic. It offered 8 staterooms including a master on the main deck, four double bedrooms below with each converting to twins. All rooms were en-suite. The yacht had a crew of 10 including the captain and a chef in the galley.
The main deck had outdoor dining on the aft and a large saloon with a dining area. Large windows allowed natural light to enter the saloon and dining area. The master suite also had large windows.
The group enjoyed a delightfully large dinner complimented with strawberry Paila ice cream for dessert. Paila ice cream is a traditional, Ecuadorian-style sorbet made in a bronze bowl.
While the guests slept, the yacht sailed for Post Office Bay, on the island of Floreana, arriving in the early morning.
Chris woke at 5:45 AM to a beautiful morning with the moon still high in the sky and the sun starting to rise. What paradise!
They enjoyed breakfast on the aft deck then set out at 8:00AM to explore the lava cave and to snorkel in Post Office Bay.
The Lava Cave was amazing. The group descended into the cave via stairs.
After the cave they went to the mailbox barrel on the island to search for postcards that they could deliver close to where we live. The barrel was originally used by homesick sailors to drop off letters for their loved ones in the hopes that sailors returning home would deliver them, or at least mail them once they arrived home.
The tradition has continued and Chris dropped off his post cards as well as looked to see if there were any cards that he or someone else from the group could deliver.
After, the group went snorkeling in the bay. They were blown away by the sea lions that played with them as well as the large turtles and loads of fish and coral.
The group returned to the yacht to recover, had lunch, rest and get ready for the next excursion: Devil’s Crown.
“There, the current was strong,” said Chris. There were lots of fish, a few turtles, and one of the other members of the group saw two white tip sharks. According to Chris, it was “not as beautiful as Post Office Bay.”
“Our next excursion was Cormorant Point at 4:00 PM to see the Flamingoes, then hike over to Green Beach and Four Sand Beach,” said Chris.
Edison, the group’s guide, offered an educational talk at each location. “I know more now about the Galapagos, turtles, flamingos and blue–footed boobies. Our guides were amazing,” said Chris.
Chris said he ate more than he normally does since the food was so good, but also because of the snorkeling in cold water, hiking and cooler temperatures, it was needed to keep him energized!
The Grand Majestic sailed overnight to Española. The group went ashore at 6am in order to be the first group ashore to do a two-hour hike around the island. Española is uninhabited (by humans) and is home to many Albatrosses, Blue-footed Boobies, and many other bird species.
“Sea Lions and loads of marine iguanas lined the beach near the jetty where we landed,” said Chris.
“We had to be careful since the path was very rocky. It was incredible viewing the blowholes, Albatrosses, boobies and other species so close,” he went on to say. “These animals were not afraid of humans.”
Chris said that particular excursion was one of the top three experiences of the whole trip.
“There is nothing like an early more hike with the sun rising, a cool breeze, majestic scenery and a good group of people,” he said. “I loved it,” he continued.
They returned to the yacht after to enjoy a well-earned breakfast and then went for another snorkeling excursion.
After lunch, the group explored a nearby beach, followed by a memorable last supper onboard Grand Majestic.
After an early breakfast, the group disembarked by tender on the island of Santa Cruz. They boarded a bus and went to the giant tortoise sanctuary for one last experience with these ancient giants.
They then boarded the ferry for the island of Baltra, where they would depart these majestic islands and continue the tradition of delivering postcards throughout the world.