We stopped often so we wouldn't wear out before the "step experience" We saw a lava lizard on the way. It's hard to describe the landscape so I'll just post pictures. Mauricio stopped a few times to explain many areas since we had to hike about 3 miles before the steps! I'm just obsessed over these steps! One stop was to show us some of the "LAVA CACTI" and then a LAVA HERON. Another stop was to show us different lava formations which the area was very dry with mixtures of brown and gray colors and had a few crater areas. Mauricio gave me a big rock to hold and it was actually light and then we passed it around.
We then got to the steps and one lady barely made it to the top.
I finally did but had to stop at every 50 steps or so. I am proud to say I was next to last (in our group) to reach the 114 meters high peak. Mauricio said, "you made it" & I was rather embarrassed & said "yea". It was worth it though. The view was spectacular! We got our pictures taken in front of it & we had to hold on to our hats because it was really windy. The ship's photographer, Klaus took group photos here also. The scenery was different on each side; to the left was Pinnacle Rock, in front was the blue water of the ocean, to the right was the volcanic area and behind us was the steps. I had no problem going down and was right behind our guide going back to the dinghy boat. On the last walkway, Bernie's hat blew off her head. We were laughing as she chased it "off course" & teasing her that "she was going to upset the environment"! She did get it.
From here we saw a couple Galapagos Penguins and we were taken for a WET landing to a RED SAND BEACH. I had never seen sand quite this color. It was pretty and most of the people went swimming but Bernie, Brenda & myself decided to just spread our towels on the sand and lay down. The only wildlife we saw in this area was a couple birds and a Lava Lizard near us. I attempted to get pictures & then I got the bright idea to take pictures of my footprints in the "red" sand. We were here about 90 minutes then back to our ship for lunch.
We had Roberto as our guide for the afternoon excursion to the 4th largest island, JAMES (SANTIAGO) ISLAND. Our WET landing dropped us off on the south side of JAMES BAY. There used to be an old SALT MINE near here at PUERTO EGAS. British Buccaneers came here during the 1600's. Now there are SEA LIONS, BROWN PELICANS and a SEA LION NURSERY. The beach here consisted of BLACK SAND that was also interesting to look at. We were given about an hour as we again spread out our blankets and took in the sights of the many sea lions including 2 males fighting, which I took a little video of. Bernie found a sick sea lion lying in a sheltered area & took a picture of it. I decided not to go over but yet I watched as a Hawk ate the remains of a dead sea lion.
When our time was up, ROBERTO called for the FRIGATES which was us and we hiked a trail that took us along the coast. We took the inner part first & he showed us the different types of vegetation and cactus. We also saw a TURTLE swimming in a Tide pool. We found ourselves walking on huge flat black rocks and then I looked down and I almost stepped on a MARINE IGUANA! They were all around us and I really had to watch my step. They aren't the prettiest things but they stood still most of the time and didn't seem affected by humans.
Also along the coast were the ORANGE COLORED SALLY LIGHT-FOOT CRABS. I thought they were kind of pretty little creatures. We also saw the bone remains of an iguana that were a yellow color. There were different colored rocks and shells and I like to always bring some back from every trip I take, but they told us not to because it can "upset the environment", so I didn't. Back on the ship, we had our briefing by FABIAN, who did all of them, during cocktail hour.
Guess what happened to be on the dinner menu? OCTOPUS and being the adventurous eater that I am decided to try it. "Very chewy" was the only way I could describe it. It seemed to take forever until I could swallow it. I probably would eat it again though. After dinner, we walked around the ship and snapped some nice sunset photos.
We were divided into 7 groups with 10-15 people in each one. For each excursion we had a different guide. The guides would call out our group names. And Yes, the groups were named after popular Galapagos wildlife. I wanted our group to be the "Boobies" but no such luck. We were named the "FRIGATES" which are birds. Other groups were the Boobies, Cormorants, Albatross & Dolphins. I'll get to the frigates in the last entry. We dreaded this mornings excursion because we had to ascend more than 400 stairs! But my dread soon turned to happiness when I saw we had MAURICIO as our guide. He was a bit of eye candy, well for the females anyways. lol Let's just say Bernie called him her "butter-cream boy". We got our life jackets on & they taught us the correct way to grab our guides getting into the dinghy boats. This was a "dry" landing. I like the dry ones best. The boat took us to the BARTOLOME ISLAND that had volcanic formations and is dormant. Thank goodness for that!