I never thought I would be able to visit my number one destination of my bucket list. I’ve always wanted to see those enormous tortoises that look dinosaurs from millions of years ago. After all, turtles are my favourite animals, and for me it was the absolute dream to visit the Galapagos Islands and finally meet those ancient creatures. Whenever I think back there’s this big smile on my face again and if I ever get the chance to get back, I won’t have to think twice. Below I’ll tell my story about how I travelled to this paradise on our planet.

Making plans

Everyone starts here, it all begins with making plans. For me it was a coincidence that I went to Galapagos, I had the option to go abroad for school and I took this opportunity with both hands. Not a single moment did I regret that I travelled all the way to Quito, the capital of Ecuador. When I arrived, I made myself the promise to visit the Galapagos Islands before I was leaving.

This promise was hard to stick to, as it is by far not the cheapest location to travel to. I lived frugally for a few months, with Galapagos wandering around in the back of my head.

Before you get to Ecuador, make sure that you read up whether you require a visa or not. For most countries it is not necessary to have one and you then you can stay up to 90 days. There are no international flights to Galapagos, so you first need to fly to either Guayaquil or Quito.

I visited a couple of tour operators in Quito and asked around for prices and itineraries, my plan of saving money  for Galapagos now had a concrete number. This made my dream come a little closer to reality as I heard prices ranging from $600 – $5000, – for a total tour. (even Excluding flights)

Researching and booking

Finally, after a few months of monitoring my budget, I had enough money left to realize my trip to Galapagos. This was harder than planned since as a student I didn’t have a big source of income. Whereas others went partying and spending money on expensive drinks, I kept that money in my wallet. After all this time I booked my flights from Quito to San Cristóbal. Prices can range from $200 – $600 + When I walked around in Quito to find a company that could arrange my Galapagos tour I spoke with a couple that had just returned.

They advised me to go to a tour operator in Quito, that according to the girl ‘’creates the vacation exactly how you want it to be and better.’’ I’m a sceptical person so wasn’t immediately convinced, but it was worth a shot.

The location was directly at the ‘’touristic’’ area called Plaza Foch. When I entered the office, I was immediately helped by a woman named Paola, we sat down and discussed what I wanted and expected. She offered a complete itinerary, which basically was exactly what I was looking for. To my big surprise it was even several hundred dollars under my planned budget!

Leaving for departure

One and a half week later it was almost the time to go! I’m a person that starts packing their bags days before I leave and check hundreds of times whether I have everything, I guess I’m afraid to forget things. I packed the essentials, some clothes for warm weather, a sweater, hiking shoes, flip flops, sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, my camera and charger and that was basically it. No really, I did not take a large suitcase full of 3 different outfits per day. I’m going to Galapagos for adventure and that’s exactly what I packed for.

The flight was not long, especially not considering it took me 19 hours to get to Ecuador. When I looked outside of the window (thank god I always take the window seats) I could not believe that it was happening! The temperature was hotter than what I was expecting, maybe because in Quito it’s simply not often this hot. I could really feel the sun burn and it’s really not for nothing that people warn you about bringing sunscreen and clothes to cover yourself.

Let the adventure begin

The cruise I had booked was even though this was my first cruise , a pleasant surprise. The cruise seemed personal and small scale, unlike other boats I have went on that were just packed with tourists like me. The picture of massive cruise ships where you can land a plane on where wrong. I’m not saying the yacht was small, since it was definitely not. There were about 10 other passengers with me on the cruise, and it felt small scale which I really liked. The sea view from the window was beautiful in the morning and to top it off there was a bubble bath at the deck!

For me it’s obviously not about the accommodation, the Islands are what I’m here for! Although a nice bed and luxury are welcome, I’m in it for the Galapagos animals. I must admit that without a cruise I would probably not have seen the schools of dolphins. I also won’t spoil all of the mystery that the Islands have to offer, as I think that it is up to you to discover for yourself. There’s too much to write about, the black lava rock with it’s weird shapes. (where you don’t want to stand upon barefoot) but words can just not describe it!

The enormous number of animals, from small birds to Galapagos hawks to penguins. Small turtles, big turtles, giant tortoises and dolphins, seals, and sea-lions. I’ve never seen such a variety of unique creatures outside of the zoo. And even with a zoo it is incomparable, the whole atmosphere and island ‘’vibe’’ is something I have never experienced before.

The seals are just as playful as you can read online, and they are really not afraid of human. Trust me, it’s hard to keep your distance, they are so huggable. The sea lions on the other hand, I’d rather stay away from, I have witnessed some intense fights for territory.

You miss all the chances you don’t take

If you are just like me willing to go the Galapagos Islands, do not doubt about it and just go. I would highly recommend booking through a tour operator, as they provided me with an excellent tour and services. I am actually a kind of sad that I have crossed this place of my bucket list, it is just so amazing and one of the places I’ll probably have ever been and will ever go. It’s a shame that with my budget and time limit it was not possible to visit all of the Islands. Doing so is very hard, but I did not have the feeling that I really missed something. I think that I’ve seen more than I imagined I would see, and trust me my expectations were through the roof!  I’m really curious to read if your Galapagos experience was just as life changing as mine was, so let me know at the comments or ask ahead if you have any questions!