Frontiers Note: Henrietta Strutt is from the Frontiers UK office. She shares her spectacular experience during a recent trip to the Galápagos Islands. This is part eight and the final blog in the series.
It was the last morning of an amazing week aboard the National Geographic Endeavour II and what a week it had been.
We packed our suitcases the night before as they needed to be ready outside our cabins for 6:30 a.m. Breakfast was from 6:30 a.m. and while we were eating, all of the luggage was loaded onto zodiacs and taken to shore and on to San Cristobal airport. They wanted us to vacate our cabins by 7:15 a.m., so after breakfast we all gathered in the lounge ready to disembark. The ship was busy with the preparation of all the cabins for the 96 new guests arriving in just a few hours (96 is the maximum). At 7:30 a.m. for the last time, Cindy made her announcement that it was time for us to make our way down to Deck 1 to board the Zodiacs. After saying our goodbyes to many of the team we were on our way to the island. We were greeted for the last time by lots of loud sea lions on the steps of the jetty. A great last bit of Galápagos wildlife.
We walked a short way to buses for the five minute drive to the airport where all our luggage was waiting organised in deck levels. We then checked in and waited for the flight. The passengers getting off were the new guests for the ship. The naturalists that brought us to the airport then moved to the arrivals hall to collect their new guests and take them to the ship.
All of our flights were with Avianca again and, as on the way out, everything ran smoothly. We were met at Guayaquil airport by Lindblad staff and then transferred to The Hilton Colon. Rooms were booked for guests that needed them (included in the cruise rate).
Some guests were flying onto Lima, Peru later that afternoon for their second Lindblad expedition. For the guests flying late evening or the next day they had the option to go on an excursion around Guayaquil that afternoon or to just relax in their rooms or by the pool.
Lara and I were flying to Bogota at 6:00 p.m., so we had some lunch by the swimming pool before taking a quick shower in the spa to freshen up and then we headed back to the airport.
There is a lounge at the airport which is part of the Priority Pass programme. I am a member and Lara came in as my guest. Complimentary food and drinks were available with comfy seating. Lara and I both bought some delicious Ecuadorian organic chocolate in duty free before boarding our flight to Bogota.
We had about three hours at Bogota airport and again we sat in the American Express area which was right next to our departure gate. Our flight to Heathrow was at 11:00 p.m., so we had another night flight and it was a full flight. Dinner was served and then we took advantage of sleep time. Because we were flying forward in time we did not land until 1:30 p.m. on Sunday which was ¾ hour earlier than scheduled.
I would sum up my week in the Galápagos Islands as exhilarating, not what I expected, extremely hot and amazing. I feel very lucky that I have had the privilege to go to somewhere in the world that is relatively untouched by humans, where the animals are so protected from the dangers of humans. As seen on UK television recently in a 3 part programme, the scientific work that goes on in the Galápagos is huge and needed to protect the islands, land and marine life. All the staff on the ship added to the experience. The knowledge they all have seemed to have no end. Their dedication to keeping this amazing place safe is second to none.
Lara and I would like to thank Lindblad for giving us this once in a lifetime opportunity.
Some photos courtesy of Hilton Colon Guayaquil.