Blogs from Galápagos, Ecuador, South America - page 2

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South America » Ecuador » Galápagos » Santiago Island June 9th 2014

We needed to be up early again, but were excited at the prospect of getting off the boat and having a bit more activity. Following breakfast we grabbed our gear, which included three cameras as well as all a full complement of snorkeling gear and wetsuits provided by the cruise. We were split into groups of 16 and took a short Zodiac ride to the island of Santiago where we dropped our snorkeling gear on the beach and then headed out for a walk. We followed a trail along the beach of black volcanic sand, led by one of the naturalists from the ship. Along the way we saw more and more of the Galapagos wildlife. Starting with Lava Lizards, we soon saw the ubiquitous Sally Lightfoot crabs that seem to cover every shoreline like a ... read more
Rainbow on Santiago
Crabby Crab
Swaggy Iguanas


So yeah....apparently sharks in the Galapagos are vegetarians, or so I have been told by Miguel who owns the house where I am staying. He, his wife Marisol and 11 year old son Areal told me this with straight faces and expected me to believe them. Problem being that I may have been misunderstanding their English (or their Spanish) as is often the case when things are lost in translation. Either way I didn't believe them! But I am getting ahead of myself, as usual. Here I am! in the most famous archipelago in the world!!! I can't even believe it myself. I have been here now for 10 days and still find that I am pinching myself nearly every day. The flight from Quito started off a little stressful with the traffic absolutely chockers. Let ... read more
The kids all grow up wandering inbetween rocks and sea lions.
It' a hard life!
Can I play?


Our plan for Galapagos was to divide our time between the island of Santa Cruz (5 days) and a boat trip (8 days) around the western and northern circuit of islands (Santa Isabela, Fernandina, Bartolome and Genovesa). In theory this would give us the best of both worlds - a chance to organise our own trips and diving whilst based on Santa Cruz and to maximise the diversity of wildlife we would see whilst we were on the boat. But first we had to get there... After an enjoyable morning basking in the bright sun of Alausi (and in my case the afterglow of the Championship play off final victory) and marvelling at Alausi's transformation from sleepy backwater to bustling market town we boarded a bus to Guayaquil. On the map it looked like it would ... read more
John and Penny consider going native in Alausi...
Tree lizard in Guayaquil
An extra helper at the fish market

South America » Ecuador » Galápagos May 5th 2014

The first leg of our trip took us to Quito, Ecuador. From one of the highest vantage points of the city, we could see the homes of the city expand out for miles. No high rises in this city. After touring the city and seeing the Cathedral, San Francisco Plaza Church, we joined our group and enjoyed a delightful hot chocolate in the main square while listing to a native flute player. Although our trip to Quito was only a day, we met delightful people and enjoyed the first day. The next morning we started our trip to the Galapagos Islands by flying from Quito to the Island of Baltra where we boarded a water taxi to take us to the Island of Santa Cruz. As we traveled to our hotel, the highly rated Finch Bay ... read more
Land iguanas
Frigate Birds
Blue-footed Boobies


Wednesday 1st We leave our hostel in plenty of time to catch the blue bus back to the airport. As we reach the main street we find that there's no traffic at all and the streets are all cordoned off and there's armed police in full riot gear everywhere ! The busses aren't going to run from the normal place and when we ask some locals they don't know where the busses will be. We walk about a mile through check points, with police all around us and armoured cars parked in the side streets. It's 1st May and a public holiday and they're expecting riots ! We can't find the bus so walk back to the hostel for a taxi. The only problem being we don't have enough currency and the ATM's are all boarded ... read more
Quito 2
Encantada
Marine Iguana Santa Cruz

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This morning we crossed the equator to the Northern Hemisphere. We arrived at Genovesa Island and anchored in Darwin Bay, a huge submerged caldera of a dormant volcano. Genovesa is the island of the birds, one million of them, red-footed boobies, frigate birds, swallow tailed gulls, storm petrels, Nazca boobies and short eared owls. We sighted all species, an overwhelming seabird experience. This is mating season for the boobies and the frigates. The male frigates have a giant pouch that inflates upon their chest. They will sit waiting with the pouch inflated, fasting, for up to 10 days to attract a female. We observed these large birds, with a wing span of about 8 feet in the midst of their courting ceremony. In some cases a group of 5 or 6 juvenile males gather together as ... read more
Frigate Male
Prince Philip's Steps

South America » Ecuador » Galápagos May 1st 2014

Another early wake-up call, cleverly disguised as a “weather report”, 6:00 a.m. Our first outing of the day was a zodiac ride with a dry landing to the base of Bartolome Island. It is well advised to begin at this early hour, we are now just 16 miles from the equator and the sun heats the black lava rock very quickly, not to mention this excursion was a hike up 316 feet (378 stairs) to the top of the volcano. I consider this elementary practice for Machu Picchu. The view from the top of the rock was fabulous and you could see an underwater caldera that could be a miniature of the “Blue Hole” in Belize. We went back to the ship for breakfast and then a trip to the beach for swimming and snorkeling. As ... read more
Muscle Woman
At the Top
From the Top

South America » Ecuador » Galápagos April 30th 2014

Santa Cruz Island is the second largest island in the archipelago and the port town of Puerto Ayora is home to 18,000 Galapaguenos. It is bustling place that has several very interesting art galleries featuring among traditional art, hand woven water tight vessels ranging in size from a 1/3 cup to 1 gallon capacity, beautiful weavings made of vibrantly colored alpaca wool which from a distance appear to be oil paintings and whimsical sculptures. As in any other tourist town the typical “souvenirs” are found all along the main street, just about 1.5 miles long. The main attraction of this island is the Giant Tortoises and the Charles Darwin Research Station which was our first stop of the day. We were lucky(?) enough to see two of these giant creatures mating, an act that can last ... read more
Fermenting Moonshint
The Still
Lava Tube

South America » Ecuador » Galápagos » Santa Cruz Island April 30th 2014

Vacation? Yes. Rest and relax? Not until today. I forego the first expedition of the day to see the land iguanas, it entails more boulder hopping and I opt for a massage instead, thank you Hilda. I return to the cabin just in time to head off for the 10:40 deep-water drift snorkel excursion; oh glory of glories, what a wonderful hour and a half. A sheer wall along Santa Cruz Island is bejeweled with corals, soft and hard and infinite varieties of vibrant multi-colored fish. The water is warm and the dive skin is more than enough protection from the sun and prevents chill in the water. This is a great ship, with lots of stairs. I am estimating I am clocking about 30 flights a day. Day two I really couldn’t figure out why ... read more
Sea Pencil Urchin
Galapagos Coral
PICT0081

South America » Ecuador » Galápagos » Floreana Island April 29th 2014

The pre-breakfast outing was a zodiac ride with a wet landing to Floreana Island and a hike to Punta Cormorant. The beach where we arrive consisted of sand which contained olivine, a semi-precious stone, broken into very small granules. We hiked past a brackish lagoon where we could see in the distance (thanks for the binoculars MOM) the Galapagos Flamingos (we only counted 18) and I believe this is the only island that we expect to see these beautiful birds. Once we arrived at Punta Cormorant beach we sighted burrows that had been dug by the sea turtles and also saw tracks on the beach as evidence of a female who had laid her eggs the previous night. Sally Lightfoot crabs were all along the rocks and I learned that the crabs’ growth depends on the ... read more
Chocolate Chip Sea Star
Playful Sea Lion
Post Office Bay




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