Galapagos islands

Trip Start Mar 15, 2006
Trip End Dec 20, 2006

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

The trip to the galapagos a few weeks ago was definitely one of the highlights of my whole year. I´ve been a bit slow in updating though because I flew back to meet Nick in Argentina and have been busy ever since, so I´m a bit sketchy on some of the details.
From Quito I booked my place on the ´Sea Cloud´, a 20 metre motor sailor boat with room for 8 passengers (small by Galapagos standards). Booking at the last minute I got a 40% discount (though all trips to the galapagos are costly). Coincidentally, I met Gemma and Shelley, two of the other passengers who would be on the boat at my hostel in Quito. We also had a young recently married American couple who had been volunteering on another island, and a Columbian man and his son who had won the trip as a prize. there was also our guide Carlos, the captain Pepe and 4 crew. A nice bunch.
From the airport on Baltra island we boarded our floating home for the next 8 days. We knew we would be in for an amazing experience when there were a group of sea lions sunning themselves on the park benches along the wharf, absolutely oblivious to us all.
Our first stop was Seymour north. We started with some snorkelling, where we saw lots of fish as well as white tipped reef sharks and some rather large hammerhead sharks.
Approaching north Seymour I was struck by how uninviting it looked. being volcanic, it was strewn with dark boulders, and from the sea the trees looked dead, the surf pounded the shors, and large black birds circled overhead. Once on shore though it was spectacular and utterly surreal, with red sandy soil lit up by the setting sun, and birds everywhere. And the birds were so totally unafraid it felt like an alternate universe where birds rule and humans are somewhat lower down the pecking order. The island is home to blue footed boobies, magnificent and great Frigate birds, as well as to marine iguanas and the ubiquitous sea lions. The male magnificent frigate birds are large and black, escept for a small red pouch hanging down from their neck. When they try and attract a female though, they puff up with air sac until they have a massive red swelling on their chest like a balloon. The mothers were nesting the chicks too, which were very cute. The boobies truly deserve their name, especially the Blue footed Boobies, as they are so unafraid of humans as to seem stupid (but I guess they evolved free of predators to worry about). The boobies have such large bright blue feet that they look quite comical waddling from side to side as though they are wearing oversized flippers, proudly showing off their blue feet.

To be continued...
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