27th Feb. cont.
All from there went nice and smoothly and we were soon landing on the Galapagos Island of Baltra. Once we had paid our $100 (each) Galapagos park fee, (although unlike Cathy she overpaid by $20 and we had to wait for the clerk to check his numbers before returning the money even though we new he had counted extra – sometimes, there's no honesty), we collected our bags (the last ones, due to money mistake) and found our guide, Juan who
introduced us all to the group, 1 Fin, 1 Swed, 3 French, 3 German 2 Americans and the 2 Brits, us. We had chance to buy an underwater disposable camera from one of the local stalls and have a Galapagos Island stamp put in our passports and then our group boarded a bus to the dock where the boat was moored. Once at the dock we waited next to a few noisy sea lions for the boat's Zodiac (launch) to come and collect us
. As we waited we saw lots of frigate birds flying over head and plenty of sea lions playing around the jetty. When we got on board, Juan gave us a briefing and showed us to our cabins. We then had some lunch, (yellow fin tuna with rice, peas, corn and salad) and then headed round to Black Turtle Cove where we anchored up and then went on the zodiac for a Turtle Safari round the mangroves. The first thing we saw were Blue Footed Boobies and right next to them were some black Iguanas. Then we slowly motored around the mangroves seeing pelicans diving in to catch the sardines closely followed by the Brown Noddy trying to steal what the pelican had caught. In the mangrove we spotted a Lava Heron also trying to fish from his rooty hideaway while all the way we saw baby puffer fish trying to nibble at our toes in the water. Then came the creme de la creme, Sea Turtles, mating. The way they danced around each other was like a ballet, twirling round and round with the male on top and the female every now and then lifting her head above the water for air taking a big noisey gulp and back under again. We then went deeper into the mangroves but without the engine and using only one ore, where we saw more Sea Turtles. After that we headed back to the boat so that the other 6 could have their go and we got kitted out with snorkel gear for tomorrow. After a cup of tea we had a rest in our cabin then showered ready for dinner. We got back on deck in time for sunset and then had spaghetti bolognese Ecuadorian style
. After dinner we had a briefing for the morning and then went on the top deck for some star gazing. By 9.30pm we were tired out and headed to our cabin to get some sleep.
Got up at the early hour of 6.30am for breakfast at 6.45. From the boat we could see a white tip shark hunting for fish around the hull along with the occasional puffer fish. Over night we'd sailed to Rabida Island where the sands are the colour red. At 7.30 we went in the Zodiac to the beach where we saw marine iguanas, sea lion cubs and crabs running in and out of tiny holes in the sand. We had a walk up a hill to a lookout for a beautiful view of the bay and on the way we saw many lizards (male and female, some copulating and some finding food), caterpillars and a mating pair of grasshoppers. We're beginning to think that the Galapagos is all about sex and food! We also saw some strange disk type cactus, some of which looked like mickey mouse and other heads with big ears, but I found one that looked like a love heart. There were plenty of birds about too, including a Mocking-bird and the Fly-catching Finch which was very inquisitive and wasn't scared to fly close to catch a fly or two. We then went back to the beach for some snorkelling and the first chance to test the gear
. We got back on board at around 10am and set sail to Bartolome Island and along the way some Frigate birds decided to relieve themselves on us whilst we were enjoying the sun (it's lucky I guess). Once at the island we had a jetty to land on that a sea lion had seemed to have taken residence. From there we walked up to the top of this volcanic island stopping on the way for Juan to explain about the lava tubes and lava cactus that grows on it. At the top we had another beautiful view of the coastline of golden sandy beaches and craters everywhere, including an underwater one that you could clearly see from there. Once back down, we went back to the boat to collect our snorkelling gear and then went to the beach to do some more fish spotting. Some people saw manta rays and a shark, and we saw lots of fish and I saw a turtle. Around from the beach we saw three Galapagos Penguins sitting on a rock and on the way back to the boat we stopped to see more just resting in the afternoon sun. Once back on board we showered and then had dinner which was battered shrimp with a chilli sauce, and potatoes, rice and a bit of salad. After dinner we set sail again to Genovesa (Tower in English) Island, whilst we watched a documentary about the Galapagos. After that we retired back to our cabin for some well earned rest.
Up at 6.30am for breakfast at 7. During the night we had crossed the Equator and into the Northern Hemisphere to the island of Genovesa, otherwise known as bird island. We started the day off at Darwin Bay and landed the Zodiac on a coral breach right next to a relaxing Sea lion We then went for a walk along the cliff top where we saw, Masked and Red Footed Boobies as well as Great Frigate birds, Galapagos Doves and more Lava Herons. There were also plenty of juveniles of most of the species. It was amazing how used to humans they were and how close you could get to them, the general rule was keep one meter away but that rule didn't seem to apply to the birds who just wandered past your feet or flew right by your head. We then headed back to the boat to collect our snorkel gear and then went straight out again to snorkel from the dinghy. The visibility wasn't as good as yesterday and we were picked up again to find a better spot then snorkelled back to the beach. The dinghy then collected us to go back to the boat for lunch which was beef borginyon with rice and vegetables, and fruit for dessert. After lunch we had a siesta and at 2.30pm we were back in the dinghy to go to Prince Philips Step. There we saw more Boobies, (I love Boobies, especially the Red Footed), Frigates, Red billed tropic birds and Storm Petrels. Then the hunt was on for the Short-eared Owl. Ross (from America) was the first to spot it (so won the beer) flying in to catch a smaller bird popping his head out from his lava hole
. It soon became the owls dining room as he devoured the poor unfortunate victim. After that we headed back to the boat, hot and sweaty and once on board we quickly changed into our swimmers and dived into the sea to cool off. Dinner wasn't long after which was fish with chips, garlic mayonnaise, rice and salad, followed by a half peach for dessert. After dinner Juan gave us our briefing for tomorrow (where five of the group were leaving us) and then we set sail for South Plaza Island. We then had another DVD of the Galapagos and then back to our cabin for a chill then bed.
Up at 6.30am ready for breakfast at 7 and a first look at South Plaza Island. After breakfast we got on the zodiac to a jetty and waiting for us was a family of Sea Lions with a kindergarten of pups playing in between the rocks and the father noisely keeping guard. Once on dry land we walked up into a forest of cacti where land iguanas were busy eating the fruit that falls on the ground as well as chasing the ladies around. On the other side of the island, from a cliff top we watched lots of birds flying around, catching breakfast and doing what birds do all day. It was amazing how close they fly. Back on board the boat we set sail for Santa Cruz Island (on the way, Cat saw a large manta ray jump out of the water, but unfortunately, there were no other witnesses), where we had chance to stay on land for a bit longer as it was the main city of the Galapagos, Puerto Ayora
. At 1.30pm we headed to Darwin Station to see baby and adult Land Tortoises and the star attraction Lonesome George, the last one of his kind. It was really cool to see the youngsters battling it out over food and it was so amazing to get so close to the huge adults, but it was a real pleasure to see Lonesome George before he gets too old, he is 100 years old after all. Hot and tired we headed to a heladeria for ice cream, which was so nice as we hadn't had any for at least 4 days! Ice creamed out we had a look in some shops for some t-shirts but couldn't find what we wanted so headed to the supermarket for some soft drink for the next few days then went back to the dock to catch the zodiac, back to the boat for dinner. At dinner we met our five new arrivals, 1 Brit that lives with his girlfriend from Berlin so 1 more German, 1 chap from the USA, 1 Dane and 1 from Norway. After dinner we showered and went back to shore to go for a drink with our new shipmates, well two of them and we met up with the five that left us earlier. At 10.30pm we headed back and caught a water taxi back to the boat for a quick cup of tea and bed before we set sail again.
Breakfast at 7am this morning overlooking the Island of Floreana. At 7.45 we got into the Zodiac and set off to the beach and a walk to the Mail Box, where we checked for postcards that we could take back to hand deliver, if they we close enough to where we live
. Unfortunately, there were none close enough for us, so we left them for the next group. We then walked to the lava tube cave where we climbed down into the cool pitch black to explore the inner earth away from the heat of the morning. We even had a dip in the icey cold water from the sea inlet and two of the girls were brave enough to go a bit further to swim in it. Once back up top we walked back to the beach where we put on our snorkel gear and swam out to see what fish we could see today. Not far out we found some penguins fishing which was amazing to watch and they weren't bothered by us at all. We also saw a Seahorse curled round some seaweed, a Turtle and a few Sting Rays. An hour or so later we headed back to the boat for lunch and then a siesta. At 2pm we all headed back out on the Zodiac to Devils Crown to do some more snorkelling and this proved to be the best place we've snorkelled so far. We got to swim with Sea Lions that enjoyed playing with the Zodiac, and saw Sharks, Sting Rays, Eagle Rays and lots of different sholes of fish, it was so good that the time flew and we ended up half an hour later than planned. Our guide Juan was towing the boat with a rope tied round his waist with whoever got tired (mainly the girls) inside whilst he was snorkelling. Once back on board we had some snacks and a quick warm up and change then we headed back to the island to Pta Cormarnt. Before getting onto the Zodiac we saw a marine iguana swimming in the water and tried to climb into the Zodiac, but after a few unsuccessful attempts he gave up and headed back the way he'd come from
. On the island, we stopped at a beautiful lake where in the distance we saw a few Flamingos then headed to the beach on the other side. This beach was a Turtle landing beach where they lay their eggs at high tide. We saw plenty of Turtles in the sea, (even another couple mating) (we've now called this trip National Pornographic) but none on the beach. We were greeted by a very friendly Fly-catching Finch that was very happily landing on peoples arms and hands and at times up T-shirt sleeves. We also spotted a Sand Piper hunting for crustations in the sand and a Blue Footed Booby dive into the water catching a huge flat fish that he spent ages trying to eat. We then headed back over the island spotting a Heron on the lake and some crabs fighting on the rocks and to top it off passing an even bigger Heron standing on a rock in the sea. We got back to the boat with a beautiful sunset in time for dinner, the perfect end to a fantastic day, my favorite by far. But it does seem that the sea in the south islands is getting rougher so it didn't take us long to get down to our cabin and rock ourselves to sleep.
Up at 6.45am for breakfast to find ourselves at Espanola Island. At 7.45 we got in the Zodiac to Pta Suardez where we saw lots more marine iguanas but this time the males had bright green forearms when they are sexually active, and this being the National Pornagraphic tour meant we saw lots of horney males chasing the ladies which are red and black
. We were also lucky enough to to see two Hawks on our way to the blow hole on the other side of the island. As well as Mocking birds and Sea Lions we saw an Oyster Catcher and some Ground Finches on our walk. After seeing the magnificent blow hole, (made from a lava tube heading out to sea) and some Marine Iguanas swimming in a rock pool, we headed back to the boat to sail 1hr to the other end of the Island. After lunch and a siesta we got back in the Zodiac and headed to the beach where we saw over 400 Sea Lions laying down on the brilliant white sandy beach. We then spent a few hours sharing the beach and sea with them and did a bit more snorkelling, but after yesterdays fantastic snorkelling it was rather mirky and disapointing so headed back to the beach for a quick read before heading back to the boat for snacks and then dinner. Tonight we had lasagne and strawberry jelly for dessert. We then set sail and after a few hours of reading settled in to our bed to rock to sleep again.
Up at an early 6am for a 6.30 start for a walk on the island before breakfast. Unfortunately, there was a problem with the engine and we stopped short of Santa Cruz. Juan explained that we may have to change plans and go to Santa Cruz for a few hours so had asked chef to prepare breakfast before we go
. After breakfast we were delighted to hear the engine start as the engineer had gotten some assistance from a neighbouring boat, so we were back on plan. Half an hour or so we arrive at Lobos Island where we went ashore for our morning walk. On the walk we saw black land Iguanas and from the shore a pair of mating Eagle Rays, and on the beach was a Lava Gull. Back on board we had some time as we set sail for Santa Fe Island, so we sat and read on the back deck while a friendly moth decided to land on my face. We had lunch just as we were coming up to the Island which was a massive Tuna. After lunch and a siesta we went snorkelling from the Zodiac, where we swam with Sea Lions and saw lots of different fish, Turtles and Eagle Rays. We swam back to the boat for a snack and then at 4pm we headed back to the beach for another walk where we saw more Sea Lions lazing on the beach, some American Yellow warblers, more Land Iguanas, Galapagos Finch and a Galapagps Mocking bird. On the way back to the beach we spotted a male and female Lizard chasing around and finally when the male caught the female, they got up to what mating couples do with the male biting and pinning down the female until he'd had his wicked way. We then headed back to the boat for dinner and as it was our last one we waited to see if Leo the barman had managed to get us some Ice Cream. He had promised us ice cream a few days ago and we had teased him that if we didn't get any then he'd be walking the plank! After the main course we all sat in wonder and when he came out with dessert we were plesantly surprised that we got a sort of half soft and half ice strawberry dessert that resembled ice cream. He appologised that it
wasn't perpect but the poor lad had spent hours trying to get it right and said that it was very hard to mix. So we thanked him for his efforts and let him off and untied the plank (we didn't really put one up). We then set sail to North Seamore Island and early to bed as the sea was
particularly rough tonight and Cat wasn't very well over the side.