My Galapagos Birthday
Trip Start Jan 23, 2011
195Trip End Feb 14, 2012
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Upstairs in the dining-room I was wished happy birthday by all and, rather than the ridiculous continuous singing that I had done (in my best tuneless voice), Marianna presented me with two presents - a pocket packet of tissues (always useful) and a change purse someone had given her which she did not like and did not know what to do with so was pleased to pass it on - excellent
Back to boating - the day started with an EARLY Panga ride with a slim possibly of seeing dolphins and whales. We decided that, as it was my birthday and, as I could not see the details in the distance at the best of times, I would have a lie in and Annie would go. Tagus Cove in Isabela Island's Urbina Bay is pretty and, in the breaking light of Dawn, a completely different world but, sadly, there were neither dolphin nor whale sightings on this day.
After brekkie we went off on our morning's amazing walk on Isabela Island where I got more birthday presents - first we saw those lovely and ugly Land Iguanas, cousins of the swimmers and of the park versions that we saw in Guayaquil except here they are neither taunted nor fed by us humans, much nicer! Then something that is apparently a really rare sight and a treat of note, we saw FOUR giant Tortoises in the wild, all in the shade of one tree, incredible! We were all crouching, kneeling and lying on the ground to try and get the best view of these magnificent and ancient beasts, nothing like the tiny tortoises we found as Kids in South Africa and thought we could keep, these even dwarf the "big" tortoises that we have seen on game farms! They are just HUGE and such wonderful characters to watch as their old-man heads poke out of their massive shells and slowly look around or munch on a leaf for a while
We learnt as we sailed around the Galapagos Islands we saw that we sailed to the same places as other boats, then we and sister boat TT2 went off on our own for a bit before ending up with other boats. At the moment we were encountering the members of the National Geographic cruise (actually found out that it is really just another boat that pays a lot to use the logo as an added attraction and pull for passengers - not me being cynical this time but came from both guides, one of whom has even worked for them for a bit! :-). This preamble is to understand why these NG passengers are certain that they are so much more important than anyone else(!) and so expected us to immediately move out of their way so their brash voices and bright camera flashes (not meant to be used at all on Galapagos animals) could terrify the Tortoises and Iguanas they just about trampled! Oh, and not to forget, their official videographer needed to get his tripod to exactly where we were standing! Is it that obvious how much we disliked them and their disgraceful behaviour? :-)
The beach at the end of the walk in Tagus Cove was blissful. (Tagus cove was historically used as an anchoring site for pirates and whalers.) Great sand, beautiful blue water, just enough wave movement and, as Fabian had said the snorkelling here is not worthwhile as there is little to see, we did not feel like we were missing anything
Our afternoon treat was a Panga ride within Elizabeth Bay just off Isabela Island at the Marielas Islets which was, I have to use this word again, awesome! :-)
The ride started around the islets which are no more than giant rocks sticking up out of the water and with lots of birds sitting, flying, swooping and diving, some Sea Lions relaxing on the rocks and, one of our favourites, LOADS of Galapagos Penguins preening, perching, swimming, standing, climbing or just being cute :-) As usual, we were all delighted to be bobbing around in the water watching all of this life going on around us, just so wonderful to see
Eventually we had bobbed our way around the islets and moved on to the mangroves to go puttering through in search of more life and we were not disappointed, we saw Giant Turtles mating in the water! We learnt that a female will mate with a number of males to try and ensure as many fertilised eggs as possible and, sure enough, a second male was waiting his turn :-)
Back on board TT3 there was much excited chatter over the afternoon fruit and fruit juice, hardly surprising given the amazing day we were having (for my birthday of course :-)
Before dinner we had another interesting talk from Fabian (we all used the same space for talks which was the lounge area that we had to pass through to get to the upper deck. While the Road Scholars were having their briefing I walked through with my disco-watch flashing and completely destroyed the seriousness of their lecture for a minute - what fun :-), this time on Marine Currents. It's interesting that, even though the Galapagos straddles the Equator, because of the Earth's rotation and angle of its axis, the Tradewinds swap between North-East and South-East and between warm Northerly and cold Antarctic currents, currents being described as one body of water flowing over another
Lecture over it was time for dinner and, to make sure I was suitably embarrassed, and delighted of course, they turned off all the lights and brought through a candlelit birthday cake and sang happy birthday in both English and Spanish. I did take the obligatory bite out of the cake as is their custom. It was then sliced up and enjoyed by all of us. Like I have already said, what a great birthday I am having!
Later in the evening we spent some time sitting up on the middle deck, outdoors but covered, drinking the wine we had brought along, out of plastic glasses as our ride was already getting too rough to risk real glasses.
Bouncing along the ocean having a glass of wine and in the middle of the Galapagos Islands, what an incredible birthday!
TT3 provided itinerary wording:
Wednesday, Day 6
AM Urbina Bay (SN/PR/KY) - Tagus Cove (SN/PR/KY)
PM Elizabeth Bay (PR)
After breakfast, we make a wet landing on Urbina Bay to take a walk and observe a coral area, land iguanas, flightless cormorants and giant tortoises. Optional: time for those who would like to swim, snorkel and/ or kayak. Then we make a panga ride on Tagus Cove, a protected cove between the shoulders of two volcanic craters which protect it from the open sea; we observe penguins, marine iguanas, sea lions and a variety of birds including flightless cormorant and blue footed boobies. Optional: time for those who would like to swim, snorkel and/ or kayak. Return to the Yacht for lunch. At the afternoon, we make a panga ride around the islets of Elizabeth Bay to see marine iguanas, penguins, marine turtles, seabirds and shorebirds, herons and blue-footed boobies. Return to the Yacht for dinner and our nightly orientation.