Jim Picot and Naomi Drew


Jim Picot and Naomi Drew

Jim and Naomi's big trip to the Galapagos Islands (via New York city).

The plan is we fly to New York, spend a day in the Big Apple, then we fly to Quito, Ecuador. We have two nights there (our only chance to see Quito up ion the Andes), then fly Thursday to Baltra, Galapagos. Two weeks there, including a 4-night boat cruise to some of the islands, the rest of the time island hopping under our own steam. Hope to sepnd a few days at Floreana and Isabella.

Then we fly back to NYC via Guayaquil, Ecuador's main economic city, near the coast. A week in NYC being a tourist (and visiting Naomi's sister Dianne and fiance Alex), culminating in a Broadway show just before we return - Wesy Side Story. Well, what else do you see in New York??

Back in Melbourne the morning of April 6.

h1 Cruise aboard the M/V Santa Cruz We're actually back in New York now, so we will do an abbreviated version of our second cruise aboard the Santa Cruz. It is a bit more of the same - although not if you are actually there! We booked this cruise just a week earlier in Puerto Ayora, on Isla Santa Cruz, got a good last-minute deal for less than half the regular rate. Only the larger vessels visit the outer islands such as Fernadina, which Naomi was really keen to see, and I must say was worth the effort. Before I start, one more pic from San Cristobal - walking back from the restaurant the night before, we passed literally hundreds of sealions adorning the beach, fast asleep and totally oblivious to our presence. The Santa Cruz ... read more
M/V Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz
Inside Santa Cruz

Next morning we strolled across the road to the two hotels we were planning to use (which were right next door) to enquire about their rates for our second night and using their internet. $132 a night plus taxes. Yikes! We'd been told they'd be cheaper than the Grand Hotel which was only $90 a night. We ran into the owner of the boat again in the souvenir shop/office downstairs and said we'd like to stay a second night. Ok, he said. $40. I reminded him he'd metioned a refund of our boat fares - $50. Ok, we'd work something out. In the end, we never sawe him again, nor the refund but we stayed a second night regardless at no cost, so we were happy. We used the Hotel Miconia's internet nextdoor (just buy lunch ... read more
Sealions outside the Port Captains office
Sealions and water taxis
Tortoises, San Cristobal

South America » Ecuador » Galápagos » Santa Cruz Island March 18th 2010

A late start this morning as the fast boat to San Cristobal didn't leave until 2 pm. A nice lie-in followed by yet more emails saw us through to lunchtime. Packed our bags and headed off down to the wharf. The girl at the booking office told us to wait there as the boat was quite ready, it was being "checked". It was a converted charter-fishing boat, with the interior refitted with aircraft style recliners for 20 passengers, tv and air-conditioning - sounded very comfortable. Twin inboard deisels meant a fast 2-hor trip to San Cristobal. About 2:25 she said we'd better get down there. The Ingala official checked our bags (they are very careful about food and plant materials being moved between the islands, although it was a pretty cursory check - abit like Sydney ... read more
Lancha Cholita
Cholita Crew Member
Sunset between Santa Fe and San Cristobal

South America » Ecuador » Galápagos » Santa Cruz Island March 17th 2010

The last day of our cruise, so no snorkelling. But we were up early for a 7 am dinghy tour into the mangroves on the north-west coast of Santa Cruz before docking at Balktra just to our north. Bahia Tortuga negra is a range of mangrove swamps populatred by turtles looking for snactuary whilst breeding. We cruised a round for a while but eventually found a little backwater where there were several turtles, then eventually found a mating pair. They were locked together, cruising slowly around the pool, between and around the two pangas. When the sun started to get higher and the heat began to build, the mossies came out - and we'd forgotten to bring the aerogard off the boat. Having said that, they aren't as aggressive as Australian mosquitos, so weren't that much ... read more
Bahia Tortuga Negra
Two turtles mating, Bahia Tortuga Negra
Inside the Galaven I

South America » Ecuador » Galápagos » Santiago Island March 16th 2010

Our last full day aboard Galaven I, as we return to Santa Cruz tomorrow. Naomi particularly wanted to visit Rabida, as it is quite different again. Here the iron-rich lava has oxidised, turning the rocks, soil and sand a rich red-brown, very similar to the iron-ore rich soil in north-western Australia. We walked though the vegetation then along a cliff-side path. Marine iguanas were on most of the rocks below, with the Prickly Pear tree (Opuntia) growing along the clifftop. Again, plenty of birdlife, many of Darwin's Finches and an American Oystercatcher on the red beach. A lagoon near the shore again had no flamingoes (we learnt later on the other cruise that they have not been on Rabida for years). The path looped back onto the beach (as they all do, different tour groups can ... read more
Red cliffs of Rabida
Red beach, Rabida
Rabida seascape

South America » Ecuador » Galápagos » Santa Cruz Island March 15th 2010

Sorry we are a bit behind with our blog. Would you believe it's actualy hard to find a spare half hour to write it up? We are either out exploring or looking for accomodation or food. We are currently on board the M/V "Santa Cruz", a larger cruise ship (90 passenger capacity, although only 59 at the moment) which actually has satellite internet access! Right now, I am writing from ther channel betwwen Islas Fernandida and Isabela. The schedules are so busy on the boats, but we have a break between our wakl this morning and a big snorket this afternoon. But more on that later! So, back to Day 3 of our first cruise. We landed at a place called Dragon Hill, which is actually on Sant Scruz, the main island, somewhere on the north-east ... read more
Carpenter Bee, Dragon Hill
Blue-footed Booby, Dragon Hill
Frigate Bird

South America » Ecuador » Galápagos » Santa Fe Island March 14th 2010

The boat started its engines at 3 am to make it's way from Puerto Ayora to Santa Fe for our first island landing. It seemed to take a while for them to get cranked up to a smooth rhythm, but they got it eventually. We awoke to our first real Galapogos island scene - a remote beach on an uninhabited island. Uninhabited by people, that is, as the beach was quite crowded with sea lions. It's breeding season, so there are many pups around. We were warned about the males patrolling their beaches - they don't eat for up to 5 or 6 weeks as they are constantly on the lookout for rivals trying to take over their territory, and humans are no exception. If they are approaching and barking, we were told, back away, both ... read more
Cute sealion pups
Prickly Pear cactus Tree
Naomi and Land iguana

South America » Ecuador » Galápagos » Santa Cruz Island March 12th 2010

When we first arrived in the Galapagos on Wednesday, the plane landed at the main airport on Isla Baltra, a small island just north of Santa Cruz. It's a convoluted process to get from the airport to the main town of Puerto Ayora: the airline bus takes us all for a 10 minute ride to a ferry, where our bags are loaded on board and we make our way across the channel from Baltra to Isla Santa Cruze. There we got a taxi for the 40 minute drive to Puerto Ayora. The first day of our Cruise. We were told by our travel agent to meet the cruise group at Baltra airport at 10:30 am on Friday morning. We assumed the cruise boat was going from somewhere on Baltra. To get there from Puerto Ayora back ... read more
Fish Market
Land Iguana CDS
Iguanas at CDS

South America » Ecuador » Galápagos » Santa Cruz Island March 12th 2010

Farewell to Quito - finally on our way to the Galapagas. After some confusion at the airport as to what gate number, and the destination, we made our way across the yellow marked path to the aircraft. An hour into the flight it was evident given we were flying over water that we were not making the scheduled stop over at Guayaquil. So we were either heading directly to the islands or on our way to Cuba. Arrived at Baltra airport, Galapagos and took our first breath of island air - hot and humid. So close. Only one more passport check, payment of fees, bagage check, collect luggage and then to the bus for a short ride to the ferry, followed by a 40 minute ride in a taxi truck to reach our final destination Port ... read more
Naomi and the Big Iguana
Heron and pelicans
Seal and pelicans

South America » Ecuador » North » Quito March 10th 2010

It took us pretty well all day to get to Quito. Dianne's personal car and driver, Nilo (well, a private taxi she uses regularly) collected us from her apartment at 7:30 to get to JFK at 8:30. Alex warned us of heavy rush-hour traffic. We got there at 8:05. The plane to Miami actually arrived 40 minutes early (how could they get it so wrong on a 3-1/2 flight? Must have been some tail wind!). A bit of drama on board with an obnoxious passenger that necessitated calling security upon arrival. I doubt it went any further than a stern warning. Needless to say, with the early arrival our plane to Quito was delayed due a mechanical problem. First they tried to repair it, then they decided they couldn't and they wpould organise another plane, so ... read more
Street vendor in traditional dress
Naomi's tv interview
The Presidential Palace

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