Day 5 - We're landing early morning on the shore of North Seymour Island
. It is named after an English nobleman called Lord Hugh Seymour (if you really need to know...). As we learn, this island was created by a seismic uplift rather than being of volcanic origin, like most of the archipelago. A tiny forest of silver-grey Palo Santo trees is spread just above the landing point, usually without leaves, waiting for rains to bring them into bloom. The island is teeming with life, as it is home to a large population of blue-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls, the only nocturnal gull in the world. I think this is one of prettiest gulls - as you can see in the photos attached. We also observe a fraction of one of the largest populations of frigate birds, flying around, nesting (males and females) and taking good care of their newborn chicks. The amount of birds is amazing, and once in a while, we literally have to “give way” to a passing couple of Boobies or marine iguanas. Flocks of pelicans and swallow tailed gulls feed off shore. Here we were able once again to watch a tremendous
N. Seymour island, Galapagos
amount of pairs of blue-footed boobies conducting their mating ritual.
Magnificent Frigatebirds are also abundant, perch in low bushes. The frigates are huge, dark acrobats with a 2.3 m wingspan. The male frigates are now trying to attract the attention of the females in a most peculiar way (boys - pay attention now) - they inflate their scarlet throat sacks to resemble a giant red balloon, and each time they observe a female flying above, they spread their wings wide, and produce strange 'KULULULU' sounds... It seems to work out, eventually. In the afternoon, we are heading to Bachas Beach
in search of the flamingos. This time we are a bit more successful and in the lagoon behind the dunes, we meet 3 flamingos, occupied with their daily search of food - and they are truly beautiful with their scarlet - pink feathers and gracious slow stepping in the waters.
Day 6 - A new day has begun. Once again, a good breakfast and we're ready for the morning tour, today at Genovesa Island
. The name is derived from Genoa, Italy where it is said Columbus was born. This island is formed by the remaining edge of a
Genovesa island, Galapagos
large crater that is submerged. We start with a slow and relaxed sailing inside the zodiac along the high cliffs of the island. Hundreds of gulls are nesting, watching after their chicks, and others are flying above us. Tropic birds are hiding in the cracks. Herons are preying for fish with their sharp eyes. Fur seals (practically these are sea lions) are waking up, one of them is peeing from one of the high rocks, just in front of our eyes... We call at Prince Philip's Steps, which is a bird-watching paradise, teeming with tons of Nazca and red-footed boobies.
At the afternoon, we land at Darwin Bay
, where Frigatebirds and swallow-tailed gulls, lava gulls, tropic birds, doves, and Darwin finches can all be seen. The scenery here is outstanding - a few meters from the shoreline, thick vegetation is covering the land, and hundreds of pairs of Boobies are nesting and watching their chicks, again - at the reach of our hands.
Frigate males are trying in vain to attract the females... A green tongue of sea water is creating a canal that runs inland from the sea, divided from the sea with a high rocky natural
What a wonderful view!
Bartolome island, Galapagos
wall. In these calm water, we can watch the pelicans resting, and some juvenile herons, making their first attempts to fish. The kids are interested in everything that is going on, asking the guide many questions (too much maybe..?), and I am taking photos in frantic - the birds, the chicks, the scenery around us - everything appears great with at dusk time. The lights are mild, its windy, just the perfect conditions. Hope it shows later in my photos. We are done with the dry part. Let's go for some snorkeling now!
Day 7 - Bartolomé Island
is a volcanic islet and is one of the "younger" islands in the Galápagos archipelago. We are entering orderly into our zodiac - not before waiting for a sea lion that have found a shelter within it, to jump out into the sea... We again, start with a calm tour inside the zodiac, looking for the tiny Galapagos Penguin - endemic to that island only. This Penguin is the only wild penguin species to live on the equator.
We are getting closer to the huge pinnacle in front of us, and there it was - a tiny pair of cute
penguins, waiting just for us. Alvaro tells us that we will be able to watch them underwater so there's a lot to wait for today. We soon leave the zodiac and start a short ascent to the peak of Bartolomé island - we soon reach a spectacular viewpoint, where-from we are able to view various islets, islands, submerged volcanic crater, and bays, creating a wonderful setting (was also filmed on “Master of the Seas”, with Russel Crowe). At this point, we are breathless! It's time to return down hill. We get to the shore, turn to the dunes, and soon we reach a bay - in its waters there are 2 white tip sharks cruising just 2-3 meters off-shore. Unbelievably close, so we can actually see their white-tip fins emerging from the water. This is absolutely fantastic.
We cannot swim at that bay, so we turn back, and get into our snorkeling gear and … into the chilling waters. Well, that was absolutely one of the best snorkeling sessions we have ever had. A rare combination of multitude schools of fish, sharks, swimming & playing with sea lions, penguins, and a spectacular variety of coral formations & colors from
Santiago island, Galapagos
an outer world. We could not leave this spot and should Alvaro was not there, we would have snorkeled for hours.
At last we feel a bit hungry, so we get out and rush to our Angelique. In the afternoon we land on Santiago Island
- to walk and view an incredible sight of lava formations, reminiscent of a late eruption (only 800 years ago). Since it's a relatively fresh eruption, the lava looked as if tons of bitter chocolate paste has drifted only a few days ago and it is still “hot”. Some minerals inside the lava create strange orange coloration and together with the cracks and barren land - it all gives a feeling of a distant strange terrain, maybe the moon? No life can be seen around, apart from a lonely cactus that was brave enough to hold to one of the cracks. We also saw one marine iguana - only this time it was actually swimming like a fish in the crystal water not far from the shores of the island. Amazing - did I mentioned before??
Tomorrow is our last day in these islands. We have a long navigation toward the starting point.
Genovesa island, Galapagos
Santa Cruz island, so we're taking up the anchor, and start a long daily navigation. At a certain point we here someone calling out loud: ”Dolphines
”!!! Well we thought there are some dolphins at the distant but we were wrong. This time, they were zooming toward the ship, amazingly aligning with its stern, then swimming in an unbelievable velocity just a few inches in front of the ship, as if trying to see who is faster!! But what struck us more, was that every 2-3 minutes, the swimmers would pull aside, then another couple of dolphins aligned again with the stern of the ship, and it went on and on for almost an hour! They were coming from all over as if someone had summoned them with an underwater bell.... That was awesome - what a way to end that day!!
Day 8 - After a bad night - full of shaking in our beds due to rough sea, we're calling at Santa Cruz port. All our backpacks are packed. We say goodbye to our lovely crew and entering for the last time into the zodiac. One last look at our “home” for the last 8 days, and Angelique
Bartolome famous Pinnacle
Bartolome island, Galapagos
is vanishing in the distant behind some huge vessels. Just before we return to the airport, we visit the Charles Darwin Research Station
, which operates a tortoise breeding center, where young tortoises are hatched, reared, and prepared to be reintroduced to their natural habitat. We spend an hour within a close reach to a group of giant tortoises, Omer is almost kissing one of them, Shachar is asking for a ride on the top of them (Our guide obviously is not permitting..), and I am taking some last photos of these rare creatures.
Within 2 hours, we are seated in the plane, on a direct flight back to Guayaquil. Our Adventure is over. I am a bit sad to leave this legendary islands. But I am also very happy having the opportunity to be part of those who visited and explored this amazing archipelago. Miss you all,
** To view our Galapagos Galleries (part II), Just click on the following links:
Bartolome & Santiago photos
Darwin center photos
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