Wednesday, February 2
After a day in Quito and a morning flight I arrived on Galapagos. A dream comes true. Meeting the group of 9 on the boat we go ashore again and visit a range in Santa Rosa. The range has lots of cattle and green grass. The reason the giant tortoises like to come here. Along the road to the farm we see already some 20 tortoises. The last part of the road is in a pitoresk tunnel of trees. At the range we first walk through 3 lava tunnels and then through the fields and woods. See many Galapagos Giant Tortoises, more than 1 m big. Then we hear the sound of a short-breathed turtle. Isabella, our guide, takes us to the spot to see how two big ones are taking care of the further of the species. Some small birds, like the Darwin Finch and the yellow Warlock bird.
The next day, breakfast at 7 h, then on the dinghies to explore the island of Santa Fe. On the beach a colony of sea lions. Sleeping mostly against each other. A young is drinking the milk of his mother and a small one is loudly looking for his mother. The other mothers are driving him away. On the island there are yellow land iguanas and some birds. The Darwin Finch again, flying frigates and the blue-footed boobies, giant cactus trees and beautiful views. Some small lava lizards and dried plants. Many red Zayapa crabs on the black lava rocks. Much to see. At snorkeling we immediately see a big school of yellowtail fishes, long striped ones, blue fish, parrot fish and many more. Best are the sea lions swimming around. At some spots they come very close, 10 cm – 0,5 m, to see who you are. They play a bit and make it a suburb swim. So cool. In the afternoon we anchor in a bay, it’s actually two long islands with a waterway in between. The colorful red islands with black and white volcanic rocks. Some green cactus trees on top. Lot’s of sea lions again, playful as always and many yellow land iguanas. Some sea iguanas resting on rocks, small lizards and the remains of young sea lions and birds. On top of the island a few blue-footed boobies and many red-footed ones. Frigates flying through the air and beautiful white tropic birds. So fast that they are hard to catch. After two hours under the burning sun we go back and on the boat a cold tea is offered. On the sun deck out of the wind it’s very nice. After a dip in the jacuzzi it’s time to relax.
Friday, we leave for Isla Espanola. On the rocks lots of black and red and green colored sea iguanas. They group together or are on top of a rock to heat in the sun. Sea lions playing around again and we walk on to the island. We see a Galapagos hawk watching us on a rock. Some Galapagos doves, small brown birds nesting and Nasca and blue-footed boobies. A frigate flies along and we stop to take pictures of the albatros young, still too young to fly. Wow. The view at the cliffs is gorgeous and down in a pond next to the ocean, sea iguanas and sea lions swim around. More birds, especially boobies nesting on the cliffs. At 14:30 h we are going on the water at the next spot. Wetsuits on and the flippers and snorkels ready to snorkel at Gardner Bay. We see many fish, some sea turtles, small stingrays and sea lions. Especially the sea lions are still so cool. Back to the boat and to the beach of Gardner Bay. Very soft white sand. We find a spot to relax and the sea lions are just a few meters from us. Some come to check out on us. In the water other sea lions are playing and although it’s a bit cloudy it’s still warm and nice. On the boat again a marvelous dinner and afterwards some drinks. When the lights are turned off the Milky Way is clear. We even find the Southern Cross in the sky.
Saturday, after breakfast a wet landing on Isla San Cristóbal. This island is very rocky and some steep mountains rise above the sea. We land on the sandy beach, dry our feet and put on hiking boots. We climb the rocky path and see the red-footed boobies. On the path two blue-footed boobies are posing for us. The landscape is amazing and the view of the bay and sea. All hot, sunny and sweaty, but worth it. Change clothes and we’re on the dinghy again. Now with the wetsuits and snorkel. The nearby rock in the sea is the spot and we float with the current along. In the water more playful sea lions. They circle around and are so curious. Amazing. On the road we cross Kicker rock, a rock in the ocean and some see a lion on it. The boat takes us to Isla Lobos, island of sea lions. Not much shade, so very hot. We see many frigates, some with the huge red crop, young ones, and again the blue-footed boobies. Some warlocks and under a tree a colony of sea lions. Just resting and taking avantice of the shade. Two mothers nurse their pups and a pub is looking for the mom. Loud and smelly of course. Further we see more birds and Kicker Island in the distance.
Sunday, we walk with Isabela to the interpretation center in San Cristobal. Back at the harbor and say goodbye to 4 of the group and our joyful guide. Meet 3 group members and this afternoon a bus takes us to Galapagos de Cerro Colorado. A sanctuary for the giant tortoises. They have a breeding program and we see the young ones as well.
Monday, a dry landing on Bartolome. The bay where we are anchored is beautiful and we land on a walkway. This walkway goes all the way to the top, 130 m high or so. On top a perfect view of the bay and the islands around. The colors of the black lava, the older red and brown land, the green and blue water, the volcanic mountains… the landscape is amazing. We see a crater next to the landing spot in the water. On the boat and time for snorkeling. Again lots of fish, big sea stars, some white tip sharks and a turtle. It’s not afraid of us and we have time to get close and observe it. So cool. After a big lunch we have some time to relax and then at 14:15 h a landing on the black lava of Sullivan Bay. A huge field of black lava, with strange but beautiful patrons. We walk over it and see it all. All around the red ash hill in the middle of the black field and after 1,5 h we’re back at the beach. We dive in the water to cool down before we go to the boat again. At 17:30 h we visit the bridge and have some information about the ship and navigation.
Tuesday, this morning we get on the kayak and do the trip around the pinnacle at Bucanero Bay. See sea lions, blue-footed boobies, a turtle, pelicans and two small penguins on the rock. Back to the boat and shortly after we get in the water again for snorkeling. We snorkel at the same spot and the same track. See white tip sharks, some sea lions and the penguins on the rock, more birds and fish. Cool. The next spot is James Bay. Here we do a wet landing on the beach and leave our snorkel gear behind. Walk the path to the spot where the black lava meets the ocean. Some nice lava bridges at the coast and the fur seals where we were hoping for. More sea iguanas, some herons and small fish in the ponds. We walk along the shore and see more sea lions, playing or resting in the pools near the sea. Many red crabs and some smaller black ones. After a while we have to head back and at the beach we go for a swim and some snorkeling. Beautiful fishes again. A group of sea lions is hanging around an amazing rock formation. Very cool. A Galapagos hawk catched an eel and is eating it on the rock, just 5 m from us. The eel is still moving and the hawk doesn’t mind us taking pictures. Amazing. Today is a good day.
Wednesday, we have to leave Galapagos. Snif. The van takes us to the airport. Along the road we stop at two craters in the rainforest. Walk around and see the craters while the guide tells about the volcanoes, and the collapse of the cones, which are the reason for these craters. The trees around have moss on the branches and the introduced raspberry plants are taking over. At the airport we check in and fly back to Quito. Bye bye amazing Galapagos.