The Islands & Animals of the Galapagos


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Published: May 18th 2023
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It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most receptive to change.
Charles Darwin



After visiting the Galapagos one imagines Darwin was thinking about the iguinas when he made the above quote. The marine iguanas are interesting creatures to observe. We read the beauty of the Galapagos can’t be explained it must be experienced and we found that to be true. These marvelously blackish reptiles are a quintessential example of adaptation.

This final post from the Galapagos will finish up our time on the yacht and the two days we spent at a resort. After all, when you've spent some time working hard at observing some fantastic wildlife, you just might need a night or two of luxury at a resort. If you missed our first two here are the links. The Glorious Galápagos Islands

To toss them overboard or not?.... In the Galapagos

We appreciate you following along on our journey and hope it holds some interst for you. We always appreciate messages and comments.

Beautiful Islands with Flamingos

If you’ve followed our blogs the past few years you know one of our favorites birds is the flamingo. We were happy to see some last year when we were in Colombia and were enchanted by them on this trip to the Galapagos. The greater flamingo is the resident on these islands and sadly, there are only about 500.

For us Flamingos are enchanting elegant creatures that fly with grace and have an aristrocratic strut. We were able to watch them in their natural habitat from a distance on the inland waterway. They congregate in the shallow brackish waters which are rich feeding grounds for them. Their pink color comes from their diet of small crustacenas and tiny water plants. Flamingos often stand on one leg and is assumed to be a resting position. Flamingos prefer to stay in large colonies and they mate for life.

Watching them in flight is magical and gave us great joy!

Galapagos Tortoises!

Time and time again we learn from human's mistakes. In the 16th century there were some 250,000 tortoises on these islands and by 1970 they were down to 15,000. The decline was due to using them for meat and oil, in addition to bringing non-native animals to the islands such as rats, goats and pigs. A great deal of tedious work has gone into rebuild the population to past numbers. We were fortunate to visit three tortoise conservation centers while visiting.

They protect and train the tortoises for five years before releasing them back into the wild. These amazing creatures live to 180 years old. They live in an amazing shelter that mimicks their natural environment. They feed and protect them, while allowing them to mature and learn survival skills.They are taught how to turn themselves back over if they encounter a rock or hole that tosses them on their backs. The center focuses on reproduction and keeping these animals healthy.

For those who are interested we believe you can do volunteer work at these facilities.

We saw larger African tortoises in the Seychelles but the conservation work in the Galapagos was impressive and the habitat they have created for them is natural. We were disturbed by the barriers they kept them in the Seychelles.

Getting from point A to point B…. from the yacht to the mainland

Many are in agreement that if you want to see something very special, you have to go a little further or understand that it can be a bit complicated. On our arrival, it was pretty straightforward….get off the plane, gather the group, get on a bus which takes a few miles to the zodiac which deposits you on the boat. Getting back to the airport was a bit more complex as we had to walk about a half-mile to the dock, get on a transport skiff, arrive at a dock where you then drive almost one hour across the island, only to get on another water taxi which then takes you to a dock where a bus then finally gets you to the airport. That's a fair hike just to get to get on a plane.

The Finch Bay Hotel

Our time on the Isabella II came to a close and we headed to the Finch Bay Hotel for two days of land based activities and relaxation.

We arranged for a guided tour of the Highlands of Santa Cruz. Our guide picked us up at the airport and took us on a half day tour of The Twin Craters. Some argue these are not craters but holes formed by magma domes which created empty chamber that collapsed over a passage of time. No matter, they were unexpected and we enjoyed the walk near them was lovely with the lush greenery. It is impressive how large they craters are. A short drive and a short walk allowed us to check out some small caves in the area.

From there we stopped for lunch at Rancho Manzanillo and enjoy yet another tortoise sanctuary. After lunch we wandered the fields filled with both domed and saddle back tortoises. It is nice being able to wander freely watching them eat and interact with one another.

It was now time to head to the hotel and we were happy get settled in and relax before our ceviche cooking class. We took a ten minute water taxi to a dock and then walked about a quarter mile to our hotel.

At the appointed time we met the Chef at poolside. As it turned out this was a demonstration and not a class. The chef didn’t speak English so the assistant manager translated which went well. However, the chef had a rather mono tone and didn’t instill enthusiasm in what he was showing us. We often sign up for these classes for entertainment as much as learning. We all knew how to make ceviche and in this demonstration we didn’t learn anything new. It was a good seafood ceviche which we enjoyed eating.

We had a lovely time relaxing at the pool and in our nice big rooms and enjoying the large showers with lots of hot water and great water pressure. After we rested we met Brendan for cocktails and dinner. It is a lovely property.

Our final day on SantaCruz we took a nice trip to the Darwin Research Center. It is very well done and once again they have another sanctuary. In this one we saw many babies and that was exciting. They really are taking great care to rebuild the tortoise population with a thoughtful process. It is very reassuring.

Back on the Mainland

We planned one more day with Brendan on the mainland to explore Quito a bit more. Travel doesn’t always go as expected. MJ wasn’t feeling well the last day so she relaxed in the room while Dave and Brendan did a bit of exploring. They did some walking around, just taking in the local neighborhood and thought about taking the local "hop on hop off bus" but even after talking with the Tourist Police (yes, that's what they are called), and waiting at a supposed bus stop, they gave it up and
The Twin CratersThe Twin CratersThe Twin Craters

Highland Hills Santa Cruz
sauntered back to the hotel.

Papallacta Hot Springs

Our last two nights in Ecuador were spent at a lovely property with thermal pools. We had daily massages, fine meals and complete relaxation. There are several local hikes available and many private and community pools for soaking. This was a lovely way to end our South American adventure. It was time to head back north....but not to our home, but rather Panama City.

Who we traveled with:

Isabella II Galápagos Yacht booked via Metro Journey’s.
We opted for the Southeastern 7day/6 night trip. SoutheasternTour
Diego Zapata, Destination Expert, dizapata@metrojourneys.com. phone: 1-855-435-2093 ext. 172.
Please let Diego know we recommended him.

You will want to check out our travel companions' blog as Brendan’s perspective of our trip is far more humorous.

Go For Galapagos!

Choose Very Wisely

Foot Plant, Not Face Plant; Exploring the Galapagos Up Close and Personal. …. And watch for his other blogs as they publish


Additional photos below
Photos: 37, Displayed: 27


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Making Seafood CevicheMaking Seafood Ceviche
Making Seafood Ceviche

The Finch Bay Hotel
Frigate BirdsFrigate Birds
Frigate Birds

So beautiful
Dave, MJ & BrendanDave, MJ & Brendan
Dave, MJ & Brendan

The Finch Bay Hotel
Exploring DarwinExploring Darwin
Exploring Darwin

The Galapagos
The Galápagos penguinsThe Galápagos penguins
The Galápagos penguins

Small but Mighty


18th May 2023

Great Wrap up to a Great Trip
Reading this brought back such good memories. I do agree that the cooking class was lackluster but was still fun. Loved the pictures.
18th May 2023

Great Wrap up to a Great Trip
So many memories... It was fun but not a class... a nice demonstration. So many amazing experiences and animals.
18th May 2023
Dave, MJ & Brendan

I love this picture
I remember having this taken but can’t believe I never saw it until now. Perhaps those drinks in our hands were the reason why
18th May 2023
Dave, MJ & Brendan

I love this picture
Looking forward to our next trip and travels together! I'm sure the drinks had nothing to do with anything.
21st May 2023

Galapagos
Wow, what an adventure, what experiences! I love how you factored some serious rest and relaxation after the boat trip, good travel foresight I say! The power shower must have been particularly rewarding! I too visited the twin craters, the tortoise reserve near El Manzanillo ranch, and the Darwin Research Centre. It is heartwarming how much they are doing to help the tortoises and the Galapagos' very special wildlife there. Great wildlife photos! 😊
21st May 2023

Glalapagos
It was an experience. Anytime we can get close to animal in nature we are the happiest. The animal kingdom can provide amazing adventures. We are learning to factor in some downtime and whenever we do we are happy we did. Thank you for coming along on our explorations.
21st May 2023

Wildlife on the Galapagos
Thank you for taking us on this trip with you. I had no idea turtoises had to be trained certain skills, somehow I had thought all their behaviour was based on instinct and learning by trial and error. Now I know better!
21st May 2023

Wildlife on the Galapagos
I'm sure the tortoises have many natural behaviors and instincts. The sanctuaries keep them safe from birth to 5 years as that is when most of them die or meet with tragedy. In effort to re-populate they teach them survival skills while they can before releasing them back into the natural habitat.
21st May 2023

So glad to see...
...that you enjoyed Galapagos as much as I did a few months ago!
21st May 2023

So glad to see....
Indeed we enjoyed it immensely. It sounds like our experiences were similar.
25th May 2023
The Twin Craters

That looks interesting
That place looks interesting. Was it possible to climb down there or is it as inaccessible as it looks? /Ake
25th May 2023
The Twin Craters

That looks interesting
No hiking into the crater but the walk around the top was nice.
16th June 2023

Beautiful Flamingos!
Those flamingos are just beautiful! It must have have been so amazing to see them. That's so great they are working so hard at protecting the tortoises. I enjoyed your Galapagos blogs very much - thank you!
16th June 2023

Beautiful Flamingos!
Lori & Susan, great hearing from you again. We were impressed with all they do to protect the animals. Thank you for following along.
18th July 2023

Blue-footed
You know if did it right if you saw boobies.
18th July 2023

Blu- Footed
They really are amazing. I couldn't take my eyes off of them. the are lovely creatures.
27th July 2023

Wild for Wildlife!
What an adventure! I have to be envious of how much wildlife you saw during your time in the Galapagos, and your photos are fantastic! I'm sure relaxation time at the Finch Bay hotel was the icing on the cake!!
28th July 2023

Wild for Wildlife!
The Galapagos is an amazing place. All kinds of creatures you didn't think you could get that close to.
13th October 2023
Love the Blue Footed Boobies!

Blue footed boobies
I love these birds, something so unique about the brightness of that blue. I hope someday I get to see one in real life 😍
13th October 2023
Love the Blue Footed Boobies!

Blue footed boobies
It is hard not to fall in love with them. You will love them.
13th October 2023

Tortoises
Great to see the conversation work being done to help the tortoise population grow in the Galápagos. How amazing to see all this wildlife 😍
13th October 2023

Tortoises
They are taking great care to nurture these amazing creatures.

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