Galapagos - Santa Cruz, Santiago & Genovesa

Trip Start Oct 29, 2011
Trip End Jun 01, 2012

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Flag of Ecuador  , Galápagos,
Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Day 6 – So this morning we were back on the island of Santa Cruz. This time we are in the north east and a place called Cerro Dragon on Santa Cruz in the morning. There were a couple of lagoons in which we were meant to see flamingoes but unfortunately they were on an excursion to another island. We did get to spend time watching the green turtles mating.

In the afternoon we went to the island of Santiago and Sullivan Bay on the east coast. Here there is a 125 year old lava flow that has solidified to a black sheet that reaches to the edge of the sea. The lava here is pahoehoe lava – hawaiian word meaning ropey. It has a rippled effect caused when molten lava in contact with the air begins to solidify but is then ruffled up by molten lava into tongue or rope like shapes.

The other highlight of Sullivan Bay are the Galapagos penguins that inhabit the bay. We went for a snorkel so we could see the lava under the sea. I was just swimming along when something jumped into the water and swam to my left. I only just caught a sighting of it but there I was swimming with a penguin. We were also joined by several turtles and of course a few sea lions. In the late afternoon we went off on a walk across the lava. The highlight was when the Brits and Italians hid in a lava cave from the French who were lagging behind (again!). It was my suggestion to hide, let them go straight on by, then jump out, run back to the boat and leave them but the guide wasn't too sure if this was really the right thing to do. After dinner it was off to bed for a good sleep – or so was the plan. Unfortunately we had a 6 hour journey and they had put up the sails. This means the boat has a lot of side to side movement. Very little sleep was had by anyone because we spent most of the night being lurched from side to side. Everytime you would find yourself dropping off you would be thrown to the other side of the bunk. 

So our final day was on the island of Genovesa.  Genovesa Island is a horse-shoe shaped island that was formed when a shield volcano that has a volcanic caldera  wall collapsed and was inundated by the sea, forming the Great Darwin Bay, surrounded by cliffs. This island is also known as Bird Island, because of the large and varied bird colonies which nest here. There are an abundance of frigate birds and it is among the best place in the archipelago to see red-footed Boobies. The smallest the of booby family, most of the red-footed are all brown with the exception of red legs and feet and a light blue bill with a red base. Colonial in nature the red-footed booby differs from the other boobies by making their nests in small trees and shrubs.

It is also one of the few places in the islands where you can see fur seals.  Their coats of dark grey brown to dusky black nearly lead these animals to extinction, as hunters targeted them. The pups are born with a smooth and silky skin to which fur develops around 6-months of age. This made them prime targets for hunters back in the 18th century.These animals have survived from the brink of extinction, are the shiest creatures in the are chipelago. Their numbers now compare in numbers with the sea lions. They are smaller and the sea lions and have more obvious ears. 

We then headed over to the Prince Philip Steps where you can access the cliffs. Apparently they are named after the Prince Phillip from when he visited the Galapagos. We then spent an hour seeing lots of bird life and even saw the Galapagos short-eared owl. Back to boat (yes snacks) then out for more snorkelling (just couldn't face the salt water again - so Sam and I had another great chat). Once again they saw nothing !!. Then in the afternoon it was out for our final walk, a few sea lions (we hadn't seen many), a swimming marine iguana and a farewell cocktail on the boat (and Sam did her nails). Then we heard the news about how rough it was going to be that night. As soon as dinner was over the anchor was up and we were right in the thick of it. Sleep proved to difficult as you were constantly being lifted out of the bed. Some people were even quite sick.

Next morning there was a quick panga trip round some mangroves (I was half asleep) then off to the airport and the flight back to Quito.

So I feel I need to sum up the whole experience (you always need a conclusion or a plenary). I had a really fantastic week, with some real memorable moments - turtles, the penguin, the mating dance of the albtatross, but overall the Galapagos weren't quite what I was thinking they would be.It was a lot more touristy than I had expected. I guess I had this vision of just me and all the animals in a desolate rocky landscape just like it looked on the BBC DVD, making the same discoveries as Darwin.

But then again I am just a tourist and who am I to expect I will be the only one there. Also there is a lot of the Galapagos that are protected completely from humans that you can't visit and so isn't it better that the tourists are concentrated into just a few areas and the rest are left to be how they should be and not be destroyed by people like me stomping over them.  

I also got to spend the week with some lovely people and there were lots of laughs to be had - mostly at mine and Sam's expense. The boat was amazing, the crew were brilliant and most importantly the tan is coming along nicely - just need to get rid of the stripes - am currently resembling a zebra. Far too much time in a panga in a shorty wet suit - 'we'll get in if you see something good'
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Mum on

Love the penguins, but the lads will be disappointed with the photos of the Boobies.

Lesley on

Now I see where you get your sense of humour from! Loving your mum's comments!

Your photos are amazing - it paid off lugging that big camera lens around after all!

Have a brilliant Christmas and New Year and looking forward to reading about more safe and happy travels in 2012 xx

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