Spectacular Galapagos

Trip Start Feb 23, 2008
Trip End Apr 28, 2008

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Monday, April 7, 2008

After the group meeting at Quito I was a littel disappointed with the change in the dates Intrepid force upon me meant I would not visit Charles Darwin Centre. Worse still there is a possibility I may not see the gaint tortoises.

Our flight on Thursday was delayed multiple times making the entire group a little nervous that we may miss out the entire day of sightseeing. It is already disappointing enough that I really will have 3 full days out off the so call 7 days program. A bit of rip off really. We finally arrived before 3pm thankfully and I saw my first Iguana at the airport. Specimen 92 painted on its back. We met up with the rest of the passengers from Spondylus. There was a very strong UK presence unlike the Peru trip. We went to a property on Santa Cruz Island to see some giant tortoises. Phew at least I get to see what I regard as the must see in this achipelago. It rained heavily and soon the path became quite muddy. It was amazing to be with these giant tortoises, some aged over 100 years old. They are a wonder to see and I was happy that it was part of my experience in the Galapagos Islands.

On Friday we arrived at Floreana Island and went for a hike to the beach with sting ray and turtles. There were lots of Sally Lightfoot Crabs on the rocks. I saw a single Galapagos Penguin that swam to the shore. They looked similar to the Magellanic Penguins I saw at Gable Island near Ushuaia. On the return leg of the hike we passed a lagoon with Flamingoes. Late in the morning we went snokelling at the Devil Crown. The snokelling equiment on board was very poor. But the experience was amazing. It was hard work at times swimming against the current. I swam with a turtle, eagle rays, large sting rays, white tip reef shark, lots and lots of fish and the most magical moment would be swimming with a pair of sea loins, presumed to be mother and pup. They were dancing in the water so gracefully in front of my eyes. It was a spectacular moment only to set the tone for the rest of the trip. After lunch we visited post office bay and flipped through hundreds of postcards previous visitors has left there. After a bit more snokelling and sun baking we retreated back to our boat. I managed to take a great photo of a Elliot's Storm Petrel dancing on the surface of the sea. There were Swollow-tailed Gulls flying around our boat at night.

Saturday morning we arived at Punta Suarez on Espaņola Island. We had lots of sea loins swimming around our boat. We saw many birds on our hike, there were Blue Footed Boobies, Masked Boobies, Dawin finches, Swollow-tailed Gulls, Galapagos Doves, a nesting Galapagos Hawk and the amazing Waved Albratros. There were lots of Marine Iguanas and lava Lizards. The Iguanas looks like prehistoric creatures and they were an amazing sight. After lunch we went to Garner Bay to snokell. On the surface there were lots of planktons and fish fries. Many of us got stung by jellyfish, a few lucky one got to swim with sea lion pups. After the swim we landed on the beach full of sea lions. We could get very close to them. There were a few inquisitive pups that swam with us. It was magical interaction between sea lions and us. Unfortunately we had to leave for San Cristobal Island that evening. After dinner we headed to a local pub at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.

Sunday was our last full day at the Galapagos Islands. We visited the Interpretation Centre in the morning before heading to Santa Fe Island for our final snokell. It proved to be the best snokell of the trip.We swam again with sea lions, this time within centimetres from them. Not just the pups, even big adult sea loins were checking us out. We also spotted some turtles and a school of rays swimming majestically in the water. After a quick change we had a wet landing and hike up the Island where we saw a few Land Iguanas.

Monday morning we had an early morning hike on Seymour Island. There were more Blue Footed Boobies that did not fly when we approached them. We got so close it was possible to take pictures of just their blight blue feet. We also saw some courting male Frigate birds. There was something I have been waiting for the whole trip. We then hopped onto the flight to Quito and say goodbye to this unique place of the world.

Would I recommended Intrepid? It was impossible for me to compare this trip with any other Galapagos trip. I guess there were lots of area that could be improved. Being in Galapagos means you will also have animals to see and things to do. I have bumped into more enthusiatic guides, saw better looking boat than Spondylus, but I had a great time because of the animals. I have almost seen all the animal I anticipated in this trip with the exception to red Footed Boobies, whales and dolphins and the elusive Hammer Head Shark. I wished I had the opportunity to visit the Charles Darwin Centre. It has been a fantastic wildlife encounter only matched by my journey to the Antarctica.
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