The Real Galapagos Day One

Trip Start Dec 29, 2012
Trip End Aug 15, 2013

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Cormorant Catamaran

Flag of Ecuador  , Galápagos,
Saturday, January 26, 2013

So we left Quito and flew into Guayaquil to pick up more passengers before landing in the Galapagos.  At first glance, the land is dry and desolate, but the airport is on the little Baltra Island, which is a military base, so it was pretty bare.  Everyone takes a bus over the island to catch a ferry that will transport them to Santa Cruz.  We waited for our actual tour bus there with our guide and other passengers.  After driving for about an hour we stopped at a private farm where the Giant Land Tortoises like to congregate.  It was surreal to be riding by trees and spotting these huge animals on the roadside.  Actually, everything about the Galapagos was surreal! We watched the tortoises eat and when we got a little too close they hissed and pulled their heads into their shells.  For the most part they didn't seem to care that there were so many people around them.  We came to realize that most of the animals there, birds included, are not skittish around humans.  They go about their business regardless of the people around them.

After viewing the tortoises we had a few queso empanadas at the little restaurant.  Then we hopped back onto our bus and rode the rest of the way to the harbour.  We brought our luggage onto the boat and then rode back to the little town to get a few supplies.  We explored the harbour front and bought a few t-shirts.  Who could resist a shirt that states "I love boobies"?  Back aboard the boat we had a passenger meeting, met the crew and then had dinner.  During the middle of the night the catamaran carried us to Isla Isabela.

Our first excursion was to a little island that was covered with marine iguanas.  Eventually we came to realize that most of the lava covered coasts we were to explore were infested with marine iguanas that are endemic to the Galapagos Islands.   Somehow they arrived to the islands and evolved to become aquatic creatures in order to survive.  They spit the salt from the ocean onto their heads, which gives them a whitish mark across their heads and backs.  Here is what Charles Darwin says about them:

The black Lava rocks on the beach are frequented by large (2-3 ft), disgusting clumsy Lizards. They are as black as the porous rocks over which they crawl & seek their prey from the Sea. I call them 'imps of darkness'. They assuredly well become the land they inhabit.
Charles Darwin's Beagle Diary. London: Cambridge University Press.

It's true too.  They are not the cutest creature on the planet.  And sometimes they were so piled on top of one another, you could barely see any lava rock on the shorelines.  It was also amazing how they swim with their tails!  They are quite fast skimming across the surface.  We also had the chance to see them eating vegetation under water while we snorkelled.  They have sharp little teeth to scrape the algae off the rocks and you could even hear them doing it!

On this excursion we also saw our first glimpse of the white tailed sharks.  They were little ones that got trapped in a tidal pool when the tide went out.  There were some fish and sea turtles in the pool too, but because the sharks eat during the night, the fish would probably keep safe in the pool until the tide came back in.

We returned to the Cormorant where one of our favourite crew members, Daniel, greeted us with drinks and a snack.  We took the little panga boats to Isla Isabela to have some beach time.   We all swam at a little beach and was joined by our guide Javier and his son Jonathan who was nine.  I was very happy there was another boy on board, but Jonathan turned out to be pretty shy.  He did get along well with Caleb and Aiden and they conversed well enough in Spanish.  Jim enjoyed a cerveza on the beach and the boys had some ice cream before we ventured back to the Cormorant for lunch. Every time we returned to the boat we were greeted by Daniel with some exotic fruit juice and snack!  One could get used to this kind of luxury!

After lunch we took the panga back to Isla Isabela and a bus brought us to see first flamingos and then to the Tortoise Breeding Centre.  We saw Tortoises of different ages along with eggs that were being incubated.  Most of the baby tortoise predators are introduced species to the islands, so while park authorities are trying to rid the islands of these introduced species, they are also trying to raise the tortoise population to normal standards.  They have recently gotten rid of the goats that were running wild by culling them, but the baby tortoises are in danger of being eaten until they are about five years old which makes them bigger and their shell stronger.  So at the centre, the younger tortoises have a mesh top over their enclosure to protect them.

Aiden was stung by a wasp while at the breeding centre, but like the trooper he is, he wanted to walk through the park rather than take the bus.  So we went walking back to the town via a boardwalk and saw a few more flamingos on the way.  The boys saw a bit of the crew's soccer game while I searched for a wide-brimmed hat.  It was interesting to find out that the crews aboard the different ships get together on the islands to play soccer games!  We wanted to go watch their next game a few days from now, but snorkelling won out.

After another delicious dinner we crawled exhausted into bed.
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Tracey on

I am all caught up now and am enjoying my trip around the world with you thus far! Can't wait for a slide show night!

grandma on

hi you guys,the waters look wonderful and relaxing. xo

Kirk on

Congrats on all your adventures. We are getting excited to greet you here in Western Australia. Planning a few adventures but they may seem pretty tame compared to Galapagos. Hope the weather smartens up on the east coast while you are there. Terrible floods may disrupt some of your travels. If so, just come to Perth sooner. See you soon.

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