To early explorers this archipelago was known as Las Islas Encantadas… and only later it got it’s current name Islas ‘Galapagos’ meaning saddle/hinting to the giant tortoises. However this paradise consisting of 13 main islands and many more islets have much more to show than ‘just’ tortoises. Be it the different vegetation (some look more like the moon than ‘Hawaii’, the different colours of the water ranging from dark blue to turquoise, be it the sand from fine white powder to black lava stones and last but not least the vast variety of animals be it the dragon look a like iguanas, millions of birds* and the omnipresent sea lions.
I was so much looking forward to this trip once arrived in Quito.. being rainy and cold. So it was such a blessing when arriving on Baltra to set off for 1 week trip on the Angelito. It was a nice small ship with a very friendly crew and so was the rest of the group that would explore the islands together for the next days. On our first day we sailed to North Seymour where we could see the land land iguanas, great or magnificent frigate birds (who cares… except the birdies*), red footed boobies (yes this is not a spelling error!!), swallow tail sea gulls and sea lions!
great or magnificent frigate bird (here a male trying to impress a female with his red ‘bag’)
red footed booby
sea lion mother with the new born baby
it was overwhelming to see all these animals from close.. they are not afraid of humans and one could easily touch them (NO TOCAR!!). sometimes you almost step on them because they are all over the place and when taking a picture you have to watch your step as you cannot just walk backwards to get a better focus as a sea lion may lie right behind you!
After this first half day trip we were brought safely back on board with a little Jacques Cousteau style Zodiac and were welcomed with some snacks helping us to get through till the dinner. Ha ha there were no ‘hungry’ times on the Angelito and the food was fantastic – good i stayed only 1 week on this ship!
On day 2 we moved on to Isla Santiago (Bartolomé) and also we had our first snorkelling trip (most of us were fighting a bit with the equipment, be it the mask/snorkel or simply figure out the tricks of the underwater cameras). The skills were improving gradually throughout the week.. you can tell from the quality of the pics and movies – only thing that remained was that after 30 mins i started to freeze as the water was pretty cold (even with the wet suits).
forgot the name… think it was something like yellow seagent pepper fish or so
Bartolomé was an island with a moon type landscape with black rocks which were brightened up by hundred of orange spots which when looking closer were the sally light foot crabs that moved elegantly across the rocks.
sally light foot crab
sueblue ‘on the rocks’
In order to arrive on Isla Genovesa for day 3 we had to cruise all night.. hmm we were already used to the constant humming of the engine under our beds. Genovesa was the most northern island we visited and was a mix of sandy beach and black ‘lava’ cliffs where we could observe millions of birds (some people would be very jealous*) like swallow tail sea gull (the one with the red eye liner), blue foot boobies, nazca boobies, herons and the lovely sea lions
swallow tail sea gull
blue foot booby
For day 4 we had to travel all the way back to Isla Santiago.. so another night cruise that started already during dinner. Thus fetching your food at the buffet was in a ‘dinner for one’ fashion.. target and run with the current! No harm done – we made it! Puerto Egas and Isla Rabida were again totally different places made of black volcanic lava rocks featuring red sandy beaches – by now you can guess who ownes these red beaches… yes the ever cute sea lions. i think i took 200 pics only of them – maybe i will drop a serie under photos later on! when they look at you with their black eyes you are melting…
a ‘screen shot’ of the tough life of a sea lion
on the next day we were due to visit the Charles Darwin Tortiose breeding center – well it was a zoo to me and i was longing to see the highlands of Santa Cruz in the afternoon where we could observe the giant tortoises in wildlife.
giant tortoise experience
land tortoise taking a bath
sueblue going tortoise…
then back to the boat ah yes and not to be forgotten – it means back on board with our new buddies the ‘birdies’. this was day five where half of the group switched – some went home and a group of birdwatchers joined us. An interesting development as we saw already millions of birds.. whereas they were hungry to see just a small or medium black finch… they looked all the same to us. Clear case this would start to cause troubles. Nevertheless another long night cruise to Isla Espanola – starting to get lost which day was which. Anyway it is the time for marine iguanas, bright white sandy beach and guess what more sea lions.
pink toed booby
sea lion taking a power nap
marine iguana with some finch on its head
day 6 & 7 was the pretty island Santa Fe and onwards towards South Plaza and up towards Baltra as we were approaching the last day of the cruise. Santa Fe was the island of the coloured marine iguanas gathering on top of each other to keep warm.
waterhole near the cliffs creating kind of a geyser when the waves hit the rocks
sea lion baby waiting for the mum to return..
land iguana munching cactus
landscape with giant cactus trees
snorkelling got more exciting… white finn riff sharks and sea turtles, mantas and sea lions
early morning cruise to the mangrove forest for more sea turtles and sharks…..
This week felt like being part of the Galapagos paradise… i hope they manage to keep it as magic as it appealed to me.
*) millions of birds: now this little footnote is mostly addressed to ‘non-birdy-group’ ha ha. it was truly amazing what a fascination a little sparrow type of bird can cause to a ‘birdy’. well i have to say, we had obviously already seen so many birds before they joined us, so to us as non-birdies this was already quite a fair amount of birds. they even kept chasing with their binoculars a little wobbler while huge sea turtles or sharks were swimming passed the boat. also typically birdies would jump up while having dinner for which ever feather is flying along the ship with a speed you would think a killer whale had jumped out of the water. we were wondering if they even slept with the binocular that they attached to their bodies with a wildlife watcher harness. Well maybe it could be of good use to fish them out of the sea if they went over board…. or also it could be used for zip lining. who knows. surely we had a good laugh and we were glad we had our own mini group… consisting of 2 couples and 2 individual travellers which was inconceivable to the birdies – they asked me 1 evening. so you are travelling as a group? i said no. so it is 4 and 2? i said no… so you are Austrians? i said no. ha ha and then she gave up.