Blogs from Galápagos, Ecuador, South America - page 4


South America » Ecuador » Galápagos » Santa Cruz Island April 29th 2018

Up at the crack of dawn to catch the early morning flight from Quito to Baltra Airport via an hour stopover at Guayaquil Airport. Guayaquil is the largest and most populous town in Ecuador. As we flew over the Andean mountain range we saw perched on plateaux large towns linked to each other by single roads. These roads seem relatively modern from the air and one can only imagine that the earlier townsfolk must have walked up and down mountain paths to communicate with each other. Eventually we arrived at Baltra where we passed through immigration and each paid our $100 nature park entrance fee. The Galapagos Islands are one big nature reserve and movement around the islands is very tightly controlled. Food security was exceedingly strict as we found out during our trip. Stray ... read more
Hernan : our first guide
Lesley on the Zodiac - her nemesis !
Lesley and Caroline at the Charles Darwin Research Center

South America » Ecuador » Galápagos February 23rd 2018

This is a long update, but it's the Galapagos and it's awesome. Photos are at the bottom if you don't care to read... On the way to the Galapagos we spent one night near the Quito airport before flying to Baltra airport next to Isla Santa Cruz. Within seconds of disembarking from the plane we were met by a land iguana and within a couple hours in Puerto Ayora we saw sea lions, eagle rays, black-tipped sharks, sea turtles, marine iguanas, cormorants, pelicans and crabs. Simply amazing, and just a taste of our next 8 days. We arrived a day before our cruise started to spend a day in town for a taste of ‘mainland’ Galapagos. Similar to many backpackers we debated travelling around the Galapagos on ferries and staying on the islands vs taking a ... read more
Sea lion, Isla Santa Cruz
Fish Market, Isla Santa Cruz
Fish Market, Isla Santa Cruz

South America » Ecuador » Galápagos » Puerto Ayora January 24th 2018

Getting There Flew from Tijuana, Mexico through Mexico City and Quito, Equador. Got into Quito around 6:30 EST and was totally knackered. Grabbed a cab to a guest house, Quinta Natura Hotel** (where I thought I was the only guest), in a tiny town called Checa -- I chose the location because its supposed to be 5km from the airport since I am only staying 1 night but it turns out its 20km by road but i could clearly hear the revving jet engines in the distance from my hotel room. I booked it on and I'll have to check that listing to find out how I got so misinformed but what do you expect for $25 a night incl breakfast (and it turned out a great dinner). Upon arrival immediately went into sleep mode. ... read more

South America » Ecuador » Galápagos » San Cristóbal Island September 3rd 2017

The panamericana cuts through deep canyons and crosses high passes going from Colombia to Ecuador. We head straight to the capital Quito where we arrive just after the Festival of Lights has started, meaning the city centre is shut and the streets are full with thousands of people admiring the beautiful colourful light installations projected on the antique buildings. We get our taxi through a road block to drop us as close as possible to our hostel in the city centre. We spend the weekend walking around both the historical centre and the more modern part of town. Quito is a beautiful, lively city and feels very friendly and safe, unlike many capitals in this part of the world. We enjoy the Festival of Lights every evening and we end up in a small bar where ... read more
Busy streets of Quito during Fiesta de la Luz
Busy streets of Quito during Fiesta de la Luz
Fiesta de la Luz

South America » Ecuador » Galápagos » Santiago Island September 1st 2017

Today's activities included visits to Santiago (San Salvador, James) Island at Puerto Egas and then on to the much-anticipated visit to the Natural Habitat Adventures leased private "campsite" on Santa Cruz (Indefatigable) Island. At Puerto Egas we got our first close looks at the Galápagos fur seals. Despite the name, these are actually sea lions. Their fur is thicker than that of the Galápagos sea lions, and thus was more valuable as a pelt to sell. Extensive hunting nearly exterminated these animals in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Their numbers rebounded once hunting was halted, but declined again following the severe El Niño of 1982-1983. This species is more vulnerable to climate variations due to the longer time the mother cares for the pups. The pups are largely dependent on the mother's milk for 18 ... read more
Yellow-crowned night heron
Galápagos sea lion female with pup
Galápagos sea lion pup

South America » Ecuador » Galápagos » Isabela Island August 31st 2017

All of our activities today were at Isabela. For me, it consisted of three activities: a cruise in the pangas at Elisabeth bay in the morning, and a walk up into the hills at Tagus Cove, plus a panga ride at the same location. There was an afternoon opportunity for a snorkel trip, but I declined. I surmised (correctly, as it turned out) that I would not see anything worth the chill. Elisabeth Bay is the location of the nesting sites of the Galápagos penguins. It is worrisome to see them using such limited nesting sites. WE got our first look at them at this morning's panga ride. (Actually, my second look since I got dive-bombed by two on the earlier snorkel trip, but did not see them above water). We went deep into the mangrove ... read more
Penguin nesting site
Galápagos penguins
Galápagos penguins

South America » Ecuador » Galápagos » Fernandina Island August 30th 2017

This day was divided between Fernandina and Isabela islands. Fernandina (Narborough) Island is the youngest and most volcanically active of the islands. It began erupting a couple of day after we left. Most of it is not open to visitors because of unsafe conditions, but we were able to visit Punta Espinoza. Our walk was over rough lava and sand through areas of tidal pools. Perhaps the most striking thing of the morning walk was the sea lion pups. We saw them nursing, playing together while their mothers were out fishing, and in one case an adventurous pup tried repeatedly to get to open water, while his mother repeatedly blocked his path. Eventually, she held him down with one flipper as they exchanged words. I am not fluent in sea lion, but I am pretty sure ... read more
Punk iguanas
Nursing sea lion pup

South America » Ecuador » Galápagos » Santa Cruz Island August 29th 2017

Santa Cruz (English Indefatigable) is the second largest of the Galápagos islands after Isabella, and contains the largest urban center, Puerto Ayora. During the night the crew had cruised the boat to Puerto Ayora for refueling in the early morning, and anchored near the fuel station. I walked to the stern of the boat in the early morning and immediately noticed that there was a lot of commotion with pelicans and other seabirds diving under the rear of the boat as it began to move toward the fuel station. It quickly became what can only be described as a feeding frenzy among the birds, who were soon joined by several small sharks and at least one larger (7-8 feet) Galápagos shark. I could only assume that many small fish had gathered under our boat during the ... read more
Feeding frenzy at Baltra
Wet landing
Marine iguana

South America » Ecuador » Galápagos » Genovesa Island August 28th 2017

Our activities today were all on Genovesa Island. Like just about all of the islands of the Galápagos, Genovesa has its Spanish name and also an English name, in this case Tower Island. It is also known informally as Bird Island because of the large number and numerous types of seabirds which nest here and raise their young, and also smaller birds that are restricted to land. Like most of the islands in the Galápagos, it is a shield volcano, although active within historical times. The center is a large caldera with one wall blown out during an eruption so that the island virtually encloses Bahia Darwin (Darwin Bay). We started our day at El Barranco and then Bahia Darwin. El Barranco gave us a prelude of the rest of the entire trip - you are ... read more
"Prickleless" prickly pear
Frigate bird
Galápagos mockingbird

South America » Ecuador » Galápagos August 27th 2017

Traveling exigencies being what they were, we were up at an ungodly hour to get our bags out for placement on our small bus, and to get breakfast and a cup of coffee before a very early departure back to Quito, by way of the Middle of the Earth or nearby. In 1736 the very first major international scientific expedition was launched by the French and Spanish to measure the roundness of the earth. There was considerable debate at the time as to whether the circumference of the earth was greater at the poles or at the equator. The expedition showed the that the earth was an oblate spheroid (a sphere flattened at the poles) and the greatest circumference was at the equator. A separate French/Swedish expedition to Lapland at the same time completed its work ... read more
San Cristobal
All decked out for panga ride

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