The poor man´s Galapagos

Trip Start Sep 02, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Isla de la Plata, day trip

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Last Sunday we had ourselves an amazing little trip. Phil (who has turned into a walking rough guide), read up about this little Island a couple of hours north of Montanita, which is referred to as the poor manīs Galapagos. So we dragged our arses out of bed at around 0700 to go and meet the transportation to the town an hour north of here called Puerto Lopez. Even though we were all a bit blurry eyed, we enjoyed the trip up through the cloud forest and then arrived at the town to meet the boat. There was a little confusion over which way we were supposed to go and with which group (obviously pre Spanish classes!). We were eventually on our way, with a hope of catching a few glimpses of hump back whales. Itīs their humping season so the best time to see them flirting with each other. I was a little daunted by this as Philīs flirting is scary enough! Well we got much, much, more than we expected. About 3 humpbacks put on quite the little show and only about 10 metres from the boat! It was incredible seeing these massive mammals athletically jumping out the water, or cruising along sideways, fins waving in the air. Turns out I have not missed my vocation in life as a nature photographer, I have attached some of the disappointing shots I took, but Iīll steal some of the good ones Lucy took and then pass them off as my own!

Anyway after the amazing flirting whales, we arrived at this barren Island with a few birds milling around the beach. A short walk up into the Island and we come across our first boobies, of the blue footed variety. Isla de la Plata is the only place these beautiful (and to be honest slightly ridiculous and gormless) birds inhabit other than the Galapagos. These are seriously the Vicky Pollard of birds, they literally look at you like, am I bothered! We then came across other stunning birds, which you get to about within a metre of before they even seem to register that you are there. These included an albatross which our guide (affectionately named Manuel (FT reference) by Phil due to his unwavering enthusiasm, mannerisms and exceptional tash) got extremely excited about, before it flew off and said it was a very rare bird. Felt like a little bit of a smart arse as I pointed out the other two behind us. My camera ran out of battery here unfortunately but Lucyīs was okay so will again steal her pics. We then got to see an albatross chick, extremely cute, also very rare- starting to not believe Manuel now!
 Then a trip back down through thousands of soaring tropical birds and millions of boobies back to the beach.

We then went snorkeling with giant turtles and tropical fish, as you do! The turtles were massive about 80cm long and seemed to be quite partial to the end of bread rolls. The fish were amazing, all different shapes, sizes and colours. Just around the corner an adolescent sea lion was chilling on the rocks pulling īover the shoulderī poises for the camera!

As if that hadnīt been enough of a īDavid Attenborough eat your heart outī day, on the way home we come across another couple of whales. The guys were great at knowing where to get the boat for when they came to the surface! But this time it came and popped itīs head out the water about 2 metres from the boat, and then proceeded to swim under the boat. It was incredible; you only really get the scale of these creatures when they are that far away. As it swam under the boat I looked into the water and saw the size of it, my heart in my mouth! The boat rocked a bit and nervous laughter ensued. I mean weīre talking one big mother trucking fish! Images of jaws flooded everyone's heads, but less teeth, more girth. But it just waved with a fin a few more times a few metres away then swam off. Amazing day and just beautiful! My terrible pictures do it no justice but have a flick. Iīll pass you on to Phil to describe Montanita and School. Off to Baņos on Saturday, so another 7hours on a bus, joy of joys.
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