Its not an easy trek to get to the Galapagos, but its not the worst trek ever . To travel by air, you have to fly through either Quito or Guayaquil.  We were originating in Cusco, Peru so our trek ended up being a flight from Cusco to Lima to Guayaquil, then an overnight stay in Guayaquil and a flight the next morning to Baltra in the Galapagos. Baltra is the island you fly into if staying on Santa Cruz Island.


Walking out of an airplane on an island like this makes flying magical again.

IMG_20180530_131416Now before you even get there , the fees start adding up. Before you check-in at the airport on the mainland, you have to pay a $20 fee per person for Global Conservation. Then upon arrival at Baltra, its $100 per adult and $50 per kid entrance fee since all of the Galapagos is considered a National Park. So right of the bat we were down $380 in fees….

img_20180708_172311paintOnce we arrived at the Airport , the journey was not over. It doesn’t really matter how fast you get off the airplane if you checked bags in because they line them all up and then a dog comes to sniff them all to make sure there is nothing harmful to the island being brought in. Once the K9 is done with all the bags you can go get your bag.

IMG_20180530_133200First you have to take a airport bus to the ferry area and load your bags on the roof of the ferry. (TIP: Bring lots of $1 dollar bills or coins. I spent more ones than I have at bachelor parties. Everywhere you go it seems like its a $1 per person. We had about 40 $1 bills with us and we ran out quick. The toll for the 5 minute ferry ride is $1 per person. Then on excursions, even though you may have already paid for it all, there are often little water taxis that take you form a big boat to a smaller boat, or to another place on the island, and they are all $1 per person. Then Taxi’s in Puerto Arroyo are all $1.50 within the city limits.)


After the ferry we then took about a $20 40 minute taxi ride to our hostel in Puerto Arroyo.


If you stay in Puerto Arroyo its a $1.50 taxi ride within the city, or you can also walk just about anywhere within 20 minutes. The port area is pretty much the main area with lots of restaurants, activities, and just people out and about.  You could also see lots of sea lions here and some other wildlife. There was a playground for the kids as well. For some reason, our kids were fascinated by the Ecuadorian volleyball games going on. They were played a lil bit differently than in the states. This was a great place to just walk around with out a destination.

IMG_5314 (2)



In this area there are probably a hundred different travel or tour agencies. Most of these places offer steep discounts for next day tours or even 3-5 day cruises. We booked right before we got there when we were in Peru through Eagleray tours for our first excursion. We were able to get 4 people for the price of 3. Now if you don’t have a set schedule or are spending a few days here, then I would not book anything ahead of time. You could also do that with your hotel as well. Our hostel was great (Ariana’s Hostel Galapagos click for review) and we were the only people there. We probably could have gotten it for half of what we paid if we would have just shown up there. While we only booked one tour a few days in advance and decided to play the rest by ear.

We booked the all day Isabella Tour. This included snorkeling, hiking, lunch, and nature viewing. While we booked through Eagleray, once we got to the port area at 7am on the morning  of the tour, it was just a hodgepodge of tour companies all together. It wasn’t the most organized operation, but everyone was going to the same spot. They put us in groups with colored stickers and that was now our tour group for the day, even though we didn’t all book through the same agency. One positive thing with Eagleray was that we were able to pick up our snorkel gear and wet suits the night before. Most other companies did not provide wet suits. You take a water taxi to a larger cruiser that fits about 30 people like sardines for a 2 hour boat ride. This was the worst part of our entire trip. Once one person gets sick, its all downhill from there. They do provide trash bags for ya though or you can go over the edge. Lets just say my wife’s sunglasses are somewhere in the bottom of the ocean.  Even if you don’t usually get motion sickness, just take some Dramamine or medicine.


Finally got to Isabella and took a water taxi to the land and then immediately took a  water taxi to a lil cove and went on a hike and saw penguins, blue footed boobies, lizards, sharks, turtles, etc.


We then went snorkeling and saw lots of different rays, turtles, sea horses, and all types of fish. First time using wet suits and they were awesome. Some people stayed behind on land and did not go snorkeling. Our guide was great with our kids and let my daughter hold onto the ring he carried with him so she didn’t have to swim the entire time. It was our kids first time and they cant wait to go again.

IMG_20180531_123553IMG_5345 (2)


Then we took a water taxi back to the main part of the island and took a bus to lunch. After lunch we went on some more hiking to see more wildlife, a turtle trail, and eventually to the beach for a little bit. Then the bus picked us up, went back to the port area, water taxi to the larger boat, and 2 hours back to another water taxi to take us back to Puerto Arroyo. We got back around 530pm.

IMG_5355 (2)IMG_5323IMG_5362 IMG_5356 (2)


Now we were trying to decide what to do the next day. We knew we didn’t want to get on another 2 hour boat ride. So we decided to explore Santa Cruz and Puerto Arroyo a lil bit.

The next morning we took a $1.50 ride to the Charles Darwin Center. Good walking and lots of good turtle viewing. They have the stiffed Lonesome George on display here as well.



From there you can walk very easily to the main part of Puerto Arroyo for shopping or food. We then took a taxi to Tortuga Bay. Tortuga Bay was awesome. What we didn’t realize though is that its was like a 30-45 minute walk on a boardwalk from the drop off point to the sand.  (we should have read the sign below before not after we started the walk) They have some water and snacks right when you start and make sure you bring lots of agua. Once you finally get to the beach, you see the most pristine, mesmerizing, clean, amazing beaches ever. Not a chair or hotel in site. Just clear natural beauty. You can walk down a lil but and there are some coves for some swimming and snorkeling and wildlife viewing. A ton of iguanas that just swim from the Ocean onto land. We spent about 3-4 hours here fore decided to finally take the walk back.


The next day before our flight we just hung around Puerto Arroyo eating and did a lil more shopping before taking a taxi back to the airport.

Overall it was amazing and worth the trek to get there. If doing it by land like we did, I would probably wait to book excursions until the last minute. Need to make sure you are also capable of switching boats quite easily. Now we did see quite a few groups coming from larger cruise ships. While 10x more expensive, it appeared they catered to people who may be unable to transfer or handle boats so easily.








After a 2 hours plane ride from Guayaquil, a 10 minute bus ride from the Baltra Galapagos airplane terminal, a 10 minute ferry Ride from Baltra to Santa Cruz, and then a 45 minute taxi ride to Puerto Arroyo, we were finally at Ariana’s Galapagos Hostel. We arranged a taxi through the hostel ($25USD) so they knew we would be coming. The owner greeted us, told us a few things, and led us up to our room.


Our 2 bedroom suite, was simple but sufficient. We were on the second floor and didn’t have much of a view. The master bedroom had a stiff queen size bed. The other bedroom had 3 twin beds. Each bedroom had a TV, with bad reception and no English channels. There was also a kitchen that had a full size fridge and a hot plate and different cooking items.  We did not use the kitchen much but it was nice to be able to put plenty of water and drinks in the fridge. Then there was also a kitchen table and a small couch as well The bathroom had a small sink and a stand up shower. There was not a lot of storage in the bedrooms or bathrooms. In the bedrooms there was a few small shelves and a rack with hangers.

IMG_5301 (2)IMG_5298 (2)IMG_5299 (2)IMG_5300 (2)IMG_5315

While not fancy, this met our needs just fine. It was nice to have the space to spread out and have two separate bedrooms after sharing a room for most of the trip with our kids.

There was great views from the patio the 4th floor. This is also where breakfast was each morning from 7-8am. Breakfast was good, but simple consisting of bread,  some type of eggs, fresh fruit and juice. A lot of the tours start at like 7am, so we weren’t always able to enjoy the included breakfast. They also had filtered water up here, as well as a small fridge with drink on the honor system.


I think the big thing to remember is that this is still a hostel. They did make up the room each day, but we always had a weird number of towels and often had to ask for more. The water in the shower would just stop every once in a while. You would have to turn it off, and wait about 2 minute and then it would be fine for 5 more minutes. The toilet stopped working one day and we had to call to get it fixed. There was an air conditioning unit in each bedroom and it just worked when it wanted to. The windows didn’t close very tightly and you could here every car that drove by, or every kid that walked by. However, we slept great here. From 10pm to 6am, we were out!

The Hostel is on the edge of “downtown” and very easy to get a taxi to go anywhere. It’s a $1.50 USD taxi ride within the city, or a 20 minute walk to the port where the tours start. There are some small quick marts close by for snacks and drinks.

We paid $150 a night through Expedia. While not cheap for a hostel, it was quite large and clean. If it was just two of us, we would have gotten a  much cheaper place close to downtown. We were also the only guests here. I believe we could have gotten it for about half what we paid if we would have waited till the day of arrival as it seems like that’s what a lot of people do during the off season. I would wait if it was just 2 of us, but not with our family as that would stress me out too much.



A few weeks ago I wrote about our upcoming trip to South and Central America here. This included stops in Peru, Ecuador, Panama, and Costa Rica. Originally we had flights to Brazil but ended up changing our plans due to yellow fever.

Well as one should, I review our flights every few weeks. Something I just now ran across was the entry requirements for certain countries. If I was coming from the US, this would not matter. But traveling from country to country, you have to confirm the entry requirements from where your flights is from. (Visa entry is still based upon your passport)

I first ran across the warning below from the CDC website which states that if you are traveling from a country where Yellow Fever is present to Costa Rica, they may not let you in with out vaccination record.

YV Costa Rica

I then did some further research and found it doesn’t matter where you visited in those countries, it just matters the country itself. Both Peru and Ecuador are on the list for yellow fever. Even though I am transiting through Panama, they require 6-10 days before entry from one of those countries or the vaccination cards. According to Copa Airlines, the Costa Rica Consulate, and Tripadvisor, this is strictly enforced.

YV Copa


Now instead of visiting Costa Rica and using some Free Hyatt Certificates, we will be staying in Panama for a few more nights. We will stay a night in the city, and then head about 100KM west towards some of the beach towns. Fortunately we were all on a single award ticket from GPS-GYE-PTY-LIR. So we are just not going to use that last leg to Liberia Costa Rica. We used United miles for this leg and I called United for more information.  They told me it would cost the same amount of miles to stop at PTY instead of continuing to LIR but would be a $125 per person change fare. The customer service rep even recommended not changing it and just stopping in PTY. I also called Copa Airlines to see what they would do with my bags since the flight is operated by Copa. The CSR confirmed I would be able to check my bags only to PTY if I wanted to.

Then you gotta love Southwest. I used them for our flight from LIR-OKC. So that amount spent on tickets just goes back into a voucher that I am sure I will be able to use over the next year. I was then able to find flights from PTY-OKC for our new date at 17.5k miles each in economy. I transferred points form my Chase account to my United account and booked 4 tickets.

Luckily we were still able to piece a pretty good itinerary together with very little extra cost. Just a lil bit of stress and frustration. I sure am glad I caught this 6 weeks before we left instead of at at the airport.

Now traveling from Peru to Ecuador you are also supposed to have a yellow fever vaccination card, as well as onto Panama. However in researching online and through different airlines websites, its not enforced. This has already been the second time i have had to rebook flights because of Yellow Fever. Here’s to hoping I am correct…