The highlight of our South America trip has arrived, the Galapagos Islands, it´s a place we have wanted to visit for ages so we are really excited about the next 8 days.
Our first taste of the Galápagos was when we visited an area on Baltra called Primicias where giant tortoises roam freely. The size of these Tortoises is quite something.
Giant Tortoises of Primicias.
Our next stop on Baltra was to the much overrated Darwin Station where a breeding programme is trying to salvage something of the gene pool of indigenous tortoises, including that of the famous long necked tortoise “George” who at 135years old is sadly past donating his genes. However attempts are still being made for him to mate with two younger Spanish Tortoises of similar genes.
On the way from the Darwin station to the harbour we passed a load of Pelicans .
Our fist view of our boat and we were impressed, having booked our trip online we were not really confident that what we had arranged was going to be that clever, a nice twin cabin with hot water, our fellow crew members also seemed pretty good as well so not a bad Start.
Day 2 an early Start and a walk around Plaza Sur to see the land Iguanas. Landing on Plaza Sur was interesting as a large male Sea Lion was perched on the landing jetty and wouldn´t move, our guide with the aid of a few flailing life jackets manager to persuade him to shift. On shore we encountered more Sea Lions and some Swallow tailed Gulls, really tame.
Swallow Tailed Gull and Chick.
Our walk continued to the cliff face where we saw many of the colourful land Iguanas. A photographers delight, the Iguanas were no more than a few feet away .
Continuing on our walk we spied our first Blue Footed and Nasca Booby´s and our first Marine Iguana.
Blue Footed and Nasca Booby´s
The landscape of Plaza Sur was really odd as there were loads of large cactus trees against a backdrop of red and yellow grasses.
Plaza Sur landscape.
We returned to our boat for Lunch and in the afternoon did a spot of snorkeling in the clear blue waters of Santa Fe. Where we swam and danced with the hugely entertaining Sea Lions.
Day 3 Another early Start and another morning walk, this time on the Island of Española and the Punta Suarez. The walk today was to see the Marine Iguanas. We were soon almost tripping over the critters, there were hundreds of them, some with quite vivid red and green colouring and some the same colour as the surrounding basaltic Lava. Sally Lightfoot Crabs seem. To be hiding behind almost every rock.
Sally Lightfoot Crab.
As well as seeing Marine Iguanas we were treated to great views of Pelicans and more Galapagos Sea Lions.
Pelican and Sea Lions..
Around the point of the Island is an impressive water spout where incoming waves get squirted up through small holes in the lava to give a free water display.
Landscape of Espanola.
In the afternoon we did more snorkeling this time at Bahia Gardner and later walked amongst the large colony of Sealions, we also had a pretty good sunset as well.
Day 4 A longish overnight cruise to San Cristobel where we picked up two new passengers and said goodbye to our rather excitable Japanese girls. But before this we made a small detour to look at the Island of Leon Dormida.
After Leon Dormida we proceeded to visit the Galápagos interpretation centre where we learned a bit about how the Islands were formed and how the human impact is altering the Islands. The main Island of Baltra has over 17000 permanent settlers and their want for power, water and refuse disposal is really causing problems, along with the estimated 170,000 visitors each year the human impact cannot be overstated.
In the afternoon we did more snorkeling in San Cristobel, and had yet another good sunset.
Day 5 Another early Start and a walk around Bachas, this time to see the small colony of Greater Flamingoes and other wildlife.
Greater Flamingo and Black Necked Stilt.
In the afternoon we took a dingy around the backwaters of Black Turtle cove to see if we could spot any Black tipped reef sharks and Green turtles.
The green turtles were in abundance.
The jetty at Bachas, Linda shares a bench with a local resident.
And our overnight stowaway.
Day 6 Genovesa Island, this was always going to be a wow day and it didn´t disapoint one bit. Genovesa has large colonies of Red Footed Booby´s, Magnificent Frigate birds and a whole cliff side of Storm Petrels, we even sighted a solitary Short Eared Owl.
Red Footed Booby´s
Magnificent Frigate Birds.
lots of them...
Nasca Booby and egg.
Day 7 Bahia Sulivan, Bartolome.
At an even earlier start than usual we are up to see if we can spot any of the rare Galapagos Penguins.
The short boat trip to the coast was quite impressive as we caught the sunrise.
We were lucky enough to see about 6 penguins but the early morning low light made getting a good photo quite hard from a moving dingy.
Had we waited we would have found that the penguins would be visiting us while we did a bit of snorkeling later that morning.
After our spot of snorkeling we hiked around the lava fields of Bartolome .
We then did a walk to a viewpoint overlooking Sulivans Bay. FANTASTIC.
Sulivans Bay from the view point.
More Bartolme views.
Last day and a quick trip to look at a couple of twinned Calderas back on Baltra, and a good view of a Galapagos Dove.
Then its back to the mainland..
Galapagos blog complete, next stop Quito.