All aboard the Galapagos Vision
Trip Start Oct 13, 2010
77Trip End Feb 22, 2012
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So on Friday I packed a bag and set off for the island of San Cristobel with another volunteer, Emma who is from the UK as well. We made the two hour rough crossing on the 'launcher' speed boats which go twice a day. There were no seats left inside and the boat was clearly overloaded, there were still people arguing trying to get on and in the end a man in military uniform told them to get off
The next day we all went on a snorkelling trip to Kicker Rock - it's actually two massive rocks some way off the shore (it feels like the middle of the ocean) which you swim between, and it's home to sharks, sharks and more sharks :) There are white tipped sharks, Galapagos sharks, dusky sharks and hammerhead sharks as well as sea turtles, rays, various fish .... Everyone was a bit scared because we had heard stories of the current being so strong that you are dragged between the rocks so I was expecting some kind of water roller coaster but once we got over the shock of the freezing cold water it was not that bad! At first there was nothing, and then we started seeing the sharks. Loads of them, more than 30 or so, swimming a couple of metres below us! I saw a beautiful eagle ray swimming below me and a few stingrays, plus plenty of sea turtles outside the channel between the rocks
This was one of the best experiences ever - I certainly got my shark fix!! For now, anyway! We ended the day going to a local club, Iguana Rock, where there was a fancy dress Halloween party going on. One of the most bizarre scenes I've ever come across - on stage there was a dance off featuring a red Indian, a man dressed as a woman, a Muslim and a ghost. Yep, a woman had come as a Muslim holding a bottle of beer. The red Indian and the tranny seemed to take joint first prize. Hilarious!
On Sunday it was time to board the Galapagos Vision for my cruise
Day One of the cruise took us around San Cristobel to a sea lion colony where we saw a newborn sea lion pup - the umbilical cord was still attached! There is a rule on the Galapagos that you have to keep 2 metres from the animals unless they approach you, and it's impossible when the sea lions are so curious and come right up to take a closer look
Day Two took us to the uninhabited island of Espanola, the main reason that I chose this cruise. It has almost the entire world's population of the 'waved' Albatross bird and an abundance of 'blue footed boobies' as well as the amazing red and green coloured iguana. One of the most interesting things about the Galapagos islands are how different species are endemic to specific islands, so the iguanas look different on Espanola, Santa Cruz and Isabela. We went for a hike in the morning, only the cruise boats can come here and its strictly controlled so there weren't many people. Wow - words cannot describe how incredible this was! There were huge birds everywhere - it was hard not to trip over them and the 2 metre rule was impossible. There were albatross, boobies, frigate birds resting on the rocks and totally unperturbed by human presence. Next to then were big iguanas sunning themselves and huge colourful crabs wandering past
Day three of the cruise took us to the island of Floreana. A very different, volcanic environment with black volcanic sand, this is home to Post Office Bay. 200 years ago sailors set up a post system whereby boats returning to the mainland would take their letters. Nowadays people can leave letters and postcards and the idea is that you look through and find one addressed to somewhere close to your own home, then you hand deliver the card when you return! I found one for a family in Norwich so I will deliver it when I get back, especially as it said 'please give the deliverer a cup of tea'! Swimming we saw some interesting trumpet fish who have huge jaws like a trumpet. I got in the guide's bad books by not recognising the type of fish from a pile of bones he was holding up. He looked at me like I was the most stupid guest ever to set foot on his boat and said 'you don't know much about fish, do you?' to which I replied 'er no, not really' and Lisa (who lives just down the road from me in Hitchin!) and I cracked up laughing like school kids. Snorkeling here was fantastic - we went out of the bay in the zodiac and swam around some more huge rocks as this is where the interesting (and bigger) marine life hangs out. The current was so strong and the waves so big that I actually could not swim around the corner
We also went into the 'lava tunnels' on Floreana - basically a pitch black tunnel leading into a cave with enough water to swim in (nobody wanted to swim!). We stumbled in with our flashlights, it's interesting because the tunnels were made when the lava from the volcanoes forced it's way out of the earth. The entire island of Floreana is actually a volcano.
So that was my Galapagos cruise ... I saw more animals, learned more information and had the most fun in just 3 days than the 4 weeks I have been living here and taking mini trips. I would recommend to anyone going there to spend the money on a cruise, yes its more expensive but a week of planned activities and a knowledgeable guide are worth so much more than two weeks of DIY Galapagos. Now there are only a few days left before I leave this amazing place and get back on the Gringo trail in Ecuador ...
More Galapagos photos here: