Galapagos Island #1

Trip Start Feb 28, 2010
Trip End Jul 18, 2010

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Where I stayed
One of the hostels

Flag of Ecuador  , Galápagos,
Friday, May 21, 2010

The Galapagos Islands.
This place was never on the immediate list of the Chad's travel plan, probably because its always been a place that one could only visit in their dreams....RIGHT.

6 months ago i made a last minute change to my travel itinerary to include a visit to the Galapagos Islands as part of this little adventure, and the reason is only because i was unable to book a trip that would take me through the salt flats of Bolivia and the Chilean Atacama dessert.
Well i can now say that i am super proud to have made that call.
These Islands are as unique as they come and deserve to be protected till the end of time.

After arriving in Quito late in the evening for the second time on this trip, i checked in to my hotel only to be kicked out and put into the hotel next door...(tour guide mix up, nothing to worry about here) where i met up with some of the group and also ran into my "temporary" Patagonian tour guide, Nadia......small world huh.
This is my fifth and final Gap tour within South America and on the entire trip, and on this night after meeting and hitting the town my Italian room mate Luca and the traveling English sisters Anneliese and Faye ( I know more English, but they're cool) i was sure this adventure was going to be awesome and unique.

The following morning the rest of the group met, quickly bonded and headed to the airport to catch a flight to the Galapagos on the only airline that offers this trip.
Once we land and the cabins are fumigated (Galapagos Protocol) were met by our local Gap guides Tim and Sole who get us settled into our hostel but not before setting up our first adventure on the islands, a bike ride followed by a Galapagos history lesson so we can get familiar with the awesomeness that awaits us.

Sea Lions. MILLIONS of Sea Lions.We ran into them on the way back to the hostel on one of the local beaches where they were chillin out waiting to be annoyed by the fist gringos to see them (turned out to be us). Why do i mention this???? Well in case you dont know, just as these islands are world famous for the Giant Galapagos Tortoise, theyre also famous for the unique phenomenon where the local animals pay almost no attention to humans, and sometimes allowing you to get super close......i say sometimes because as this was our first encounter with these local beasts, some of us may have pushed them to their need to name names.

The streets here are quiet, and for a public holiday weekend they were unusually quiet but nothing we couldnt handle, so after dinner we hit the local bar by taxi. (When i say taxi i mean white pickup/ute that we sat in the back of and when i say local i mean the ONLY bar on this island, and when i say bar i mean someones backyard turned into a bar). Awesome.

Nice and early the next morning we gather our snorkel gear and head out to on a private "vessel" to snorkel with some of the locals, but not before taking a detour to spot some of the local boobies. Blue footed of course.
So after almost being attacked by a fun loving bird (see the close up shot), we suit up and dive in, and within no time were joined by the friendly sea lions, and thanks to my Olympus MuTough-8000 youre going to get to see the famous underwater pics and vids ive been sharing with everyone i met for the last 2 weeks. Feel free to take the time to stop reading this and watch one of them now....
After that awesome experience we all understand why this place is so special, i mean where else in the world does this happen. NO WHERE.

Next up we all head out even further to a dive site called Kicker Rock, where we have come to swim with the friendly local hammerhead SHARKS!!!
As i was super excited for this moment, naturally the clouds made their way over to us and pretty much destroyed any chance of us seeing these awesome beasts beneath us in the deep blue....but i jump in anyway, hoping that maybe ill get to spot that famous silhouette cruising beneath me.
Did i see any down there????? The answer is No, but Tim claims he caught a glimpse of a whole school of hammer heads under us at one point.
No need to worry, this snorkel was pretty impressive as we headed straight toward the crevice formed by Kicker Rock, where i saw a bazzillion gringo fish beneath us taking advantage of the strong current. Awesome swim already, and just when we thought it was over we were joined by a lone turtles feeding off the rock wall. Awesome again.

The day didnt end here, from there we went out to visit an amazing beach where the water is almost that perfect bluish colour that you feel the need to jump into even if a top predator was lerking below. So naturally i do.

Still more in this action packed we cruise toward the final activity for the day we were joined by whales made a very short appearance before disappearing into the deep blue.
Not to worry because in no time we arrive at the final snorkel site where we spotted a few more turtles (my best turtle pics captured here) and our first sting rays of the trip.

The day was over, we were fulfilled, relaxed and tired and so were the sea lions. That night after the crew celebrated the awesome day with a big dinner (well i had a family size pizza....activities make me hungry) we hung out with sea lions who lazed around covering the beach in fur and blubber.

The next morning it was time to make our way onto the next island, Santa Cruz...but not before i made sure i filled my belly with the local desayuno.

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