Finally finding the sharks... and lots of them
Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
371Trip End Feb 26, 2011
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Where I stayed
Hostal San Francisco
After a Pinguino ice cream (we are a little hooked on these having one a day generally they are about 75 cents but I love the fact it is warm enough at this time to have an Ice Lolly for breako) the really nice woman was just opening up the shop (by the way anyone coming here this place gave us great advice on how best to do a budget trip for no money what so ever so we felt compelled to book our Kicker Rock trip through them just do a google search for Cristobal surf and dive)
The boat loaded up with two 50 / 60 year olds from the USA and 3 Ecuadorian ladies probably in their 70’s who had all had several face lifts and a bit more work to boot. They had presumably their son with them. After a short boost we arrived at a place called Isla Lobos our first stop for the day. This is one of the biggest sea lion colonies in the Galapagos (what bigger than the town of Cristobal they are everywhere!) also its possible to see turtles, sea horses, marine iguanas underwater and the usual lots of tropical fish.
As we donned our masks, snorkels and flippers, it became evident no one else apart from us and the North Americans could swim, so we jumped in with the guide and everyone else appeared to have stayed on the boat
The Americans and ourselves were fully pumped up now after the great excitement of the sea lions, whilst we didn’t see any marine iguana’s under water or sea horses, we did see some adolescent frigate birds and blue footed boobies in the trees behind the rocks. The frigate birds we had only seen in the air and after asking the guide if they would have their chests expanded on 'Frigate Bird Hill’ he told us it was about the only time of year they aren’t doing that, oh well!
We crossed one of the reef breaks in the boat which while still scary was nothing like doing it in the tiny fishing boat in Isabela. The engine was opened up and we were on our way to Kicker Rock out at sea to try and see some Sharks. Erica and the guy from the States, both started to open up to a huge phobia of sharks, something the guy put down to Jaws and a couple of other films
The lady from the states and I were first in the water surprisingly while the phobia crew were still managing to find problems with snorkels and masks to prevent themselves getting in. I knew Erica wasn’t going to like it, we were jumping into the entrance around a channel between two parts of the rock where we couldn’t see anything below us, no ocean floor etc with the knowledge that in all likelihood there would be lots of sharks. Fair play though she jumped in and instantly climbed straight on my back pushing me underwater so I was inhaling the sea water. We had a few moments of panic with some rude shouting down the snorkels from Lady E and USA man (sorry we didn’t exchange names), the weak swimming Ecuadorian bloke was also in with us again, fair play to that man.
Within maybe the first 10m before we even entered the channel proper we saw a shark, a black tip reef shark, then as I looked around there was another and another and another and then I accepted they were quite simply all around us swimming almost in waves, some more curious than others coming towards us and other staying deep just circling below us
We got back on the boat and we were all absolutely astounded the atmosphere was brilliant and I asked the guide what pictures he had and if I could get a copy, he agreed and told me to see him afterwards. We then went to a beech and had some lunch of some type of Creole fried rice with some fish and veg and meat in it which was lovely then had a lounge around with the sea lions on the beach. The only problem with the Galapagos is the horse flies which have a really painful bite. Much to everyone else’s amusement this led to frantically crazed Lady E sprinting around the beach screaming and shouting as the horse flies chased her. We ended up in the sea ducking under the water when any came near.
Much to Erica’s relief we were called back to the boat, with Erica being the first one on and the Horseflies also on the boat, a row nearly broke out as Erica went on one of her executioner sprees killing horse flies with her flip flop on the benches and walls of the boat, much to the skippers annoyance. As soon as we were on our way the breeze got rid of the flies and the boat was slowed down so one the ladies with the face lift could have a bucket of water poured over her by the elder member of the crew, it was all a bit Elizabeth Tayloresque but then the second bucket she grabbed and started a water fight between all the old women, it was quite hilarious really, who said that maturity comes with age
As the boat pulled into the harbour at San Cristobal we collared the guide again to try and get his photos, but he explained he had to shoot off and to meet him at a certain place at about 5:30. To me it sounded like a bit of a fob off and we wouldn’t get the pictures we so desperately craved of this amazing trip.
There was also a very large crew at the dock for the second day in a row which we found out was to see the rather splendid looking boat moored out at sea, apparently it was the world’s first boat to run purely on solar power and never needed any additional power source or fuel to make it run. It was doing a circumnavigation of the world and was here for two days only, where it was possible to see the boat and have a tour. The figure we were given of how much this boat had cost was astronomical and we are not sure if it was correct i.e. over 25 Million Dollars. (Did we say that the currency in Ecuador is the American Dollar, I hate that! They even lost a government over dollarization but it went ahead anyway).
We queued up for over one and a half hours and were right at the front when the army and police started to disband the queue confirming that was all it had closed to the public
Disappointingly we walked back down the pier only to see our guide outside the meeting point, unfortunately he didn’t have his camera, (another blag we thought no pictures), half an hour later after a couple of beers we returned and there he was with his camera. We bought him a few beers and sat and had a good chat about tourism in the Galapagos Islands, the good and the bad and the interaction with the political wings. He takes videos and photos on every trip he does just for records so he can help advise the tourism boards the effect that tourism or other factors is having on the local wildlife, he had been guiding for 27 years (legally was the term he used!) and had records for about the last 20 years). He was really interesting and told us about the rather high stats of sea lion bites on live-a-board boats but the fact there has never been a single bite in the sea (yet!!). I was also asking about the Galapagos Shark and apparently it is also found in Hawaii where quite often (in relative terms) the Galapagos shark can attack or bite humans, however in the Galapagos not a single incident has ever occurred, and these are exactly the same sharks that migrate between the places. There just seems to be some kind of magic about this place, clearly the lack of predators on the land means nothing is scared of you but it seems the same at sea it is so odd.
We had a couple more beers then opted to save our beer money and invested in the best value drink in the Galapagos the sugar cane spirit, at 40% it is about a dollar or two per bottle and isn’t too bad mixed with coke. We found an ultra cheap eatery for tea and had the usual bargain basement burger and chips, the one thing I am looking forward to when we leave the Galapagos is not having to have burger and chips everyday, which at $3 or $4 is at least half the price of just about everything else on the menu. We fell asleep rather quickly surprisingly.