I first started reading about Isla de la Plata whilst in Quito, Ecuador and instantly became obsessed with the idea of visiting the Ecuadorian island. After a few questionable boat experiences so far I convinced myself that the hour long journey would be calm and non-life-threatening and found myself speeding towards ‘The Poor Man’s Galapagos’ also known as Isla de la Plata, Ecuador.
ISLA DE LA PLATA – THE POOR MAN’S GALAPAGOS
QUITO AND VOLCAN PICHINCHA
I’d like to lie and say we climbed the full 4,500 meters of Volcan Pichincha but we didn’t. The cable car option was much more appealing so we climbed aboard and headed up to the start of the hike trail. The cable car can be boarded from the bottom of the Volcano where the taxis drop off and collect climbers regularly. There’s toilets, coffee and snacks available. Someone recommended getting some sweets to keep us going.
CLIMBING VOLCAN PICHINCHA, QUITO, ECUADOR
The 3 hour hike was a struggle, the altitude made my lungs feel like they were going to pop and my head was going to implode. 3 hours up, 45 minutes down goes to show how difficult it was. The weather can get tough up there two. The sun is strong but the air is cold. Pace yourself and always take enough water to keep you going.
|Our Ecuador travel companions – It was a pleasure|
BUDGET BUD TRAVEL IN ECUADOR – THE $1 RULE
PUERTO LOPEZ, ECUADOR
We has arrived in Puerto Lopez in the off seasons and everything seemed to be moving very slowly, we weren’t actually sure we’d even be able to book an Isla de la Plata tour at first. Not much was open and there weren’t many other backpackers around, there were no whale watching trips during this time of year either which made us question all the island tours.
ISLA DE LA PLATA TOURS, ECUADOR
The similarity and comparison of the Galapagos comes from the unique eco-system on and surrounding the island which is almost identical to that of the Galapagos. Isla de la Plata is home to diverse bird and marine life and completely uninhabited like the smaller islands of Galapagos. The trip cost us $30 USD to visit plus a very reasonable $1 park entrance fee all this including the lunch and snorkel trip is quite the bargain for us poor men.
|Puerto Lopez Sunset – I love it when the sky turns orange|
THE POOR MANS GALAPAGOS – ISLA DE LE PLATA TOURS
The island itself is beautiful, dry and barren with a mixture of plant and bird life. The desert-like land in contrast with the crystal ocean makes for a pretty special photo. On Isla de la Plata, Ecuador Blue Footed Boobies nest everywhere, completely un-disrupted by the visitors due to thousands of years of no contact.
The guides are very passionate, they care about the conservation and well being of the island which is always refreshing to see. Many people often only do tourist-related jobs for the money in Latin America, something we’ve seen time and time again on our route.
The Isla de la Plata guides are proud of this small patch of land. You can imagine the absolute scenes when a woman sparked up a cigarette below a No Fumar sign on the no smoking island. She was promptly rugby tackled to the ground.
|Birds nesting – Totally unfazed by our presence on the island|
BUDGET TOURS OF ISLA DE LE PLATA – WILDLIFE AND MORE
After our educational bird tours around Isla de la Plata and questions about the island’s ecosystems, climate, discovery etc it was time to rejoin the rest of our group for some organised snorkelling.
The snorkeling on The Poor Man’s Galapagos takes place in the clearest of clear, warm waters hosting a range of exotic fish including trumpet fish and star fish.
You’re free to snorkel around the reefs and rocks freely providing you’re respectful of the plant and animal life. An hour passes pretty quickly when you’re exploring aquatic worlds, I know a lot of people felt the same as we did when it was time to pack up and leave.
|I jumped back on the boat whilst snorkelling to grab these shots|
|The bigger and more colourful fish are on the surface trying to find food from the boat|
Unfortunately our funds don’t quite stretch to the Galapagos on this trip so I’m definitely more than happy to settle with somewhere as stunning as The Poor Man’s version for now. I guess I’ll have a better understanding of how Galapagos-like Isla de la Plata really is when I get there someday and I’ll be sure to share that on here. If you’re heading down to Montañita or heading to Quito make sure to stop off in Puerto Lopez. The town itself hasn’t much to offer other than the trips to Isla de la Plata but if you can’t afford the Galapagos this time round then take a trip to the budget friendly version.
|Jessie and I looking at the views on Isla de la Plata|
|Enjoying the island|
A 20-something travel blogger based in Liverpool. Covering all things from Latin America to Liverpool local guides and everything in between.