Survival of the fittest!
Trip Start Jun 13, 2006
177Trip End Jun 12, 2007
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Alex: The Galapagos Islands were incredible. You go there expecting practically tame wild animals but when they are it is still surprising. You do have to look out for them a bit...mainly because otherwise you would tread on them. Iguanas and Sea Lions favorite sleeping spot seems to be the paths used by visitors! We literally saw hundreds of sea lions (as our pictures are testament to) they line every beach and, on land at least, are uninterested in human visitors just doing what they would normally do, which usually seems to be lying about
We arrived on the Galapagos a few days before our cruise to chill out a bit and so Dean could do a couple of dives which I will let Dean tell you more about. We were staying in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz the biggest town in the Galapagos but still a small town by most standards. Even so the wild life was there and we spent a bit of time on the pier watching Pelicans and trying to spot Eagle Rays!
To get on our cruise we had to have a trip back to the airport on the other side of the island, the boat held 16 so we were expecting about that number at the airport but it was just us and one other person (Shane from Somerset). It turned out the other 13 people had already been on the boat for 4 days and would be leaving us in 4 days when we would get some new people
The schedule for the boat was something like this for most days: Get up 6am (ug), Have breakfast, go for a walk around an island spotting various land, sea and bird life, snorkel for a bit, have lunch, have an nap while we motor to the next spot (prevents seasickness), arrive and wake up, walk round another island, snorkel a bit more, have tea, desperately try to stay awake, give in and go to bed at about 8pm! A busy schedule with lots of sleeping and eating. The food was pretty good and the boat (Amigo) was very comfortable but most importantly the islands themselves were amazing. Over the 8 days we saw Sea Lions, Land Iguanas, Marine Iguanas, Sea Turtles, Rays, White Tip Sharks, Blue Footed Boobies (a type of bird common on the islands, which has blue feet and dives crazily into the water to get to the fish), Albatross, Frigate Birds, Galapagos Hawk (and chick), Penguins, Giant Tortoise and innumerable other birds and fish. The islands themselves are eerily beautiful the "newer" islands are barren because of lava flows which are just fascinating, some are pretty much just beaches and volcanic rock (sea lions obligatory), others have arid vegetation which is basically cactus' and plants that look dead until the wet season
Pepe, our guide, was really good explaining what each animal was, its quirks, whether it was native or endemic (found elsewhere or just on the Galapagos, some animals were even endemic to specific islands like the Espanola Marine Iguana) although relatively quickly the islands blurred into one! The snorkeling was great, the water wasn't the warmest (we were a little jealous when we saw other boats handing out wetsuits - but it would have cost more!) but we saw so much. We got to swim through shoals of exotic looking fish, watch sea turtles just plodding along doing their thing (eating), and watch white tip sharks (fortunately vegetarian) either basking on the bottom or swimming around, as I suggested before the sea lions were the favorites because they were so curious and kept coming back and swimming by you to get a good look. I was slightly disappointed at first because I didn't see any penguins underwater (they are meant to be really graceful) and I only got to glimpse them shooting past from the shore. Happily, Pepe took us close up to them. We had 5 penguins on rocks or jumping from the water onto rocks within a few meters of us - wow (they were also tiny only about 30cm high). It was basically all really special. A once in a life time.
We did have a few mishaps
Mishap #2 was we missed our plane coming back to the mainland - oops. This was bound to happen sooner or later, and it was really the boats fault for getting us to the airport too late, but by the time we came to check in they had given our seats away! We let Pepe know where we were heading and he told us to wait and they would fit us on a later flight, when we came to the desk they told us the only remaining flight was direct to Quito and we wanted to go to Guayaquil, although we could pay extra if we wanted to go to somewhere we didn't want to go! Anyway, we spent an extra night in Puerto Ayora, got to the airport early on got on the flight the next day (without any extra cost) so it wasn't really a problem just annoying really.
Dean: I wanted to head out to the islands a few days earlier so that I could do a couple of dives in the Galapagos
...They decided to motor all the way around the island back to Puerto Ayora! Six hours worth of sailing!!! I did not feel good! We finally got back into port at 19:00, much to Alex's relief, as she had decided that I had a)drowned, b)got kidnapped (those sea lions can be territorial!), c)run over by a car, d)ran off with the female divemaster!
All in all I was glad to be back on dry land. The diving was excellent and I am glad that I got to do some in the Galapagos, but I would support the theory that it's not for beginners (which is what I am). I will just have to stick to the nice warm calm Caribbean! However, it did leave me feeling a little apprehensive about eight days on a yacht.
This apprehension was misplaced, as the cruise was fine and I did not feel any sea sickness to speak off. Maybe I have finally overcome it, or maybe I was just lucky! We originally planned to spend eight days in the Galapagos but with us heading over a few days early and staying an extra day after the cruise (!!!) we actually spent 11 nights / 12 days in the islands. I'm really glad we spent this long there, the islands are just stunning. The wildlife is so close and in-your-face that you just can't help but fall in love with the place
Once back in Guayaquil, and over a few beers at lunch, I suddenly felt the urge to burst into song! I think Alex had asked me what I thought of the Galapagos and a song felt appropriate! Once I had sung it to Alex (and her ears had stopped bleeding!) she insisted that we add it to the website (she can be a bit sadistic at times - it could be worse as Alex wanted me to record it as a sound file so you could all hear our wonderful singing voices!)...
Sing it to the "My Favourite Things" from The Sound Of Music!
Sea spray on penguins,
And whiskers on sea lions.
Bright coloured boobies,
And scaly skinned iguanas.
Brown Galapagos fur seals tied up with carpet weed.
These are a few of my favorite Galapagos things.
When the bull sea lion bites,
When the marine iguana spits,
When the Galapagos hawk swoops.
I simply remember my favorite Galapagos things
And then I don't feel so
I think the beer is to blame but I'm sober as I add this to the site so maybe the sun has got to me. Anyway, enjoy!