Our journey continues as we get ready to leave Guayaquil and catch a LATAM flight to Baltra, an Island in the Galapagos.

The Galápagos Islands is a volcanic archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. It’s considered one of the world’s foremost destinations for wildlife-viewing. Google

We took the Hilton shuttle at 7am to the José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport in Guayaquil, Ecuador. The drive to the airport was even quicker than earlier in the day, only taking about seven minutes. We were dropped off at National (Domestic) Departures.

Guayaquil Airport Sign
Guayaquil Airport Sign

The check-in process was more complicated than we expected. We first had to go to a terminal to print our checked luggage tags and attach them to our suitcases. Then we went to through a health screening to show proof of our Covid-19 vaccine. Prior to our trip starting, we got PCR tests as it was required for the Galapagos Islands. We would later find out this requirement was removed the day we left to begin our journey. At the time we just thought they were not very strict with the requirement as we have seen in other places.

After we passed the health screening, we got in a new line for the Galapagos Transit Card. This is required to enter the Islands and costs $20 US Dollars per person to be paid in cash.

Galapagos Transit Card
Galapagos Transit Card

After we received our Transit Cards, we had our checked baggage screened and went to the ticket counter to obtain our boarding passes. Passes in hand we headed through security and towards the lounge.

Guayaquil Airport
Guayaquil Airport

Immediately on the other side of security is a gift shop followed by the Aeropuertos VIP Lounge. We had access to the Lounge through our booking at Pikaia Lodge, so we decided to check it out.

The Aeropuertos VIP Lounge was virtually empty and was very impressive. It was clean, quiet, and had a variety of foods and beverages. We grabbed some breakfast and sat down until it was closer to our departure time. I chose the sausage breakfast with eggs, a cinnamon roll, and some type of bread roll. I was surprised to find out the “sausage” tasted much like a smoked hot dog. I still thoroughly enjoyed it.

It is time to board our flight to Baltra. When we boarded the flight, there were a couple dozen people already on board. The flight we are on starts in Quito, Ecuador and stops in Guayaquil to pick up additional passengers. We took off on time, had a quick meal that consisted of a hot Ham and Cheese sandwich with Cookies or Chips, and were landing not even two hours later in Baltra.

We walked off the plane to the VIP Arrival Lounge, which was provided by Pikaia Lodge, and were asked to sit down for a quick briefing. The employee was going to expedite our immigration and arrival process. He asked for our passports, our Galapagos Transit Cards, and $200 US Dollars, $100 per person, for the Galapagos National Park fee. He pointed out the various free food and drinks and came back around 15 minutes later. The small empanadas were delicious!

He came back with our luggage and after waiting about 15 minutes more, we were ready to leave the lounge and make our way to Pikaia Lodge to check in. We arranged a private guide and transportation with Pikaia prior to arrival. We were taken to our van where he loaded our luggage and sent us on our way.

Along the way, we passed an Iguana crossing sign. I found this a bit funny since we are used to deer crossing signs, not iguanas. Sure enough on our ride home, we had some iguana traffic.

The van ride is about 15 minutes to the Baltra dock. Baltra is the airport for the Galapagos and a Ecuadorian Military base. There are no hotels or other facilities on the island. Santa Cruz is the neighboring island separated by a small water channel which we would need to cross via water taxi. This is where we would meet up with our first animal sighting, a Sea Lion sitting on the dock without a care in the world.

As we arrived on Santa Cruz, we were met by our guide for the week, Luis. He grabbed our luggage, loaded it into a truck, and we were on our way to Pikaia Lodge. It would be about a 30 minute drive across the one and only main road across the island of Santa Cruz. We would start at a low elevation and work our way up to around 2000 ft. As we gained elevation, you could easily see the landscape change from a dry and arid environment to a almost tropical rainforest.

Like the Iguana sign earlier, we came across another unusual one. A giant Tortoise crossing sign. This too is a useful sign here because not seconds after passing the sign, we started spotting them all over the place.

Pikaia sits on top of a Volcanic Crater and experiences very rainy and foggy days in October. A cloud literally sits on top of the lodge and rises and falls throughout the day.

We were greeted by the property manager Norman, introduced to Christopher at the front desk, and shown to our room.

We were starving by this point, so we decided to head to lunch. Everything is included at Pikaia, so we just show up and choose what we want. For lunch, popcorn is provided while you wait for your order. My wife had the Chicken Club sandwich and I had the Pikaia burger. Both of us had French Fries which were amazing.

The property has some lengthy hiking trails, so despite the wet, misty conditions, we decided to head out and look around. There are various birds easily spotted here to include Yellow Warblers, Smooth-billed Ani, and numerous finches. We even ran into a Tortoise having a snack under a fallen tree.

Giant Tortoise
Giant Tortoise

It was super muddy and wet out, so we decided to head back and check out the main pool area and head to dinner.

After dinner, it was time to get some sleep and get ready for our next day which which be a full day on the Pikaia I Yacht exploring Santa Fe and South Plaza Islands. We headed back to our room to find the turn down service left us a Chocolate surprise.

This is the second post of many documenting our trip to the Galapagos Islands. Check back soon for the next part.

Galápagos Islands
Explore this photo album by Adam Woods on Flickr!
Galápagos Islands
Videos from our trip to the Galápagos Islands.
Galápagos Islands - Adam Woods
Below you will find all the posts related to our trip to Ecuador and The Galápagos Islands.