Galapagos Islands

Trip Start Jul 30, 2007
Trip End Sep 17, 2007

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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Saturday, September 8, 2007

One island looks like you have arrived on planet Mars, the terrain inundated with red barren volcanic rock formations, stripped of any traces of vegetation. The next island has lush green mangroves where deep into the languid estuaries you find white tip sharks and sea turtles breeding. Has the world turned upside down! Or... have I entered the magical, mysterious world of the Galapagos Islands.

My eight day boat tour through the majority of islands within the Galapagos island chain was truly a lifetime highlight. This strange wonderful isolated world sits alone in the Pacific Ocean, six hundred miles off the coast of Ecuador. The Galapagos define individuality. Each island has its own uniqueness, including landscape, flora and fauna, both land species and marine.

Even compared to Africa, I have never known wildlife so undisturbed, so calm among human presence. You can easily walk right up next to sea lions, marine iguanas, blue and red footed boobies, without them batting an eye..or a wing..or a foot.

Each day we traveled to a different island. Each day we snorkled, swimming along side sea lions, sea turtles, manta rays, spotted rays, dozens of species of colorful fish and coral, the occasional reef shark and even one penguin.

At night, sometimes we traveled under starry nights, other times we traveled the high seas under dark clouds and choppy waves, always waking up the next morning in a new bay, next to a surreal island landscape. Often in that early morning light, with my first cup of coffee, from our boatīs upper deck, I can hear and see sea lions resting on shore, see frigate birds gliding along a coastal cliff, or see the head of a sea turtle briefly breaching the water for a breath of air. Once, from the famous blowhole on Espanola Island, we watched a humpback whale briefly breach the ocean waves.

The next island might have pink flamingoes drawing strange figure eights in the salt lake muddy bottom layer against a reddish volcanic cone mountain background.

Out boat was cozy but perfect. Our group a wonderful wide array of fellow backpackers, fourteen in total. Our crew and guide informative, helpful and fun. The food was superb.  Three meals a day plus our equally much anticipated "delicious snack" after a round of snorkeling. Weather conditions were surprisingly very cloudy, occasional light brief rains and a bit cool, yet we were literally right on the EQUATOR. A very strange world.
So, we were always delighted when a good stretch of sunny weather intervened, especially while lying around on deck.

What else? Giant cactus trees.....horny giant tortoises. Horny birds in general since it was mating season for many while nesting season for many other bird species. And, hey, I have to say, these islands are the Land of the Boobies. I felt right at home!

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