As there are so many fab photos and stuff to tell about the Galapagos Islands, we´ve split the blog in two and this is part 1, in which we visit Santa Cruz, South Plaza and Santa Fe.
We were very, very excited about the Galapagos trip and we have to say that we weren´t let down, it is an experience like no other if you are a fan of wildlife. As the many species on the island do not consider humans as predators (as the islands were only discovered relatively recently in the grand scheme of things) they are not afraid to be in close proximity with humans and do not tend to act aggressively. Therefore, we were able to get really close to many species we had never seen before or had only seen in captivity. Hopefully the few photos here (a very small proportion of the total) will demonstrate how close we were able to come and the wide variety of flora, fauna and landscapes in the Galapagos archipelago.
We arrived on the Galapagos Islands around midday and had just a short transfer to our home for the next few nights, the Yate Darwin (Yate is Spanish
for Yacht). It was a nice little ship, mid-range with a cosy cabin with en-suite and we were onboard with 11 other tourists (all English speaking - Canadian, US and Oz), 5 crew and our English speaking guide Serjio. We set sail immediately on a short trip around the side of the main island Santa Cruz to a beach called Las Bachas.
Las Bachas is home to turtle nesting sites. We saw the nesting sites but unfortunately the only turtle we saw at this point was the baby one being eaten by a heron!! The beach is also home to some bright orange crabs, frigate birds (the ones that puff up a red balloon under their bill when mating), flamingoes and marine iguanas amongst other species. We also undertook our first of many snorkels at Las Bachas in the crystal clear waters and were lucky enough to see a ray and some small sharks - so we´ve added these to the list of "dangerous things we have been swimming with".
An early start on day two (earlier than it should have been as we set sail at 5:30am, not exactly easy to sleep through rocking motion, engine noise
and engine fumes!) saw us arrive at South Plaza, a small island just off Santa Cruz. We set sail to shore on the motor dinghy and walked around the island for a couple of hours. This island is home to sea lions (they are ubiquitous in the Galapagos) as well as land iguanas, prickly pear cactuses (the food of the iguanas), lava lizards, and more frigate birds. The land iguanas differ to the marine iguanas in that they are far more colourful - yellow/orange vs black, and they are also larger. The sea lions are pretty amusing, they baaa like sheep and cough and sneeze alot - which is not very nice when you are standing close enough for aforementioned sneeze to land a load of sea lion snot on your leg!
We headed back to the boat for our 2 hour sail to Sante Fe - not a great experience for me, let´s say I had a second showing of breakfast and quickly learned the marvel that is sea sickness medication. Joe seems to be unaffected, obviously not a dedicated land lubber like me (probably due to my pirate roots - Joe)
We anchored in a sheltered
lagoon on Santa Fe island and gladly jumped into the cooling water (it is pretty hot in the Galapagos) for another snorkel. This was a really amazing snorkel, we swam with sea turtles, sharks, rays, many, many fish and best of all the sea lions came to play with us. They really love swimming with humans and dive around you, turning circles, nibbling your fins etc, great fun.
In the late afternoon we went for a walk on Santa Fe island, the end of which coincided with sunset. Again we saw many sea lions, iguanas, lizards and cactus trees, but you don´t really ever tiring of seeing all the wildlife, particularly the sea lions.
To be continued in part 2, in which we visit Espanola, Floreana and the Darwin Research Station....
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