Today was a transition day. There were 12 people from our boat disembarking and 12 more joining the fun. It wasn’t exactly a smooth transition, but eventually everyone got to where they needed to be. In the morning Drew and I were dropped off in Puerto Ayora (where we spent the first 3 days exploring), so we decided to take advantage of having the internet to send some emails and call home to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!
In the afternoon we went with a small group to the Santa Cruz Highlands where there are many Giant Tortoises roaming around in their natural habitat. We found this experience to be much better than viewing them at the Darwin Nature Center! It was really nice to go there with our tour guide because he gave us lots of fun information about the tortoises. Information such as tortoises don’t mate until they are 40 years old!! Crazy!
Once we hopped on the boat again we had all 16 passengers on board. This time there were people from Chicago, Austria, Spain, Germany, Chile, and Australia. It was fun getting to know some more people and hear their stories. It should be a fun next couple of days.
Tonight will be a quiet one until about 2 a.m. because that is when we pull up anchor to head towards Floreana Island. Hopefully, we will sleep through the rough seas this time!
So it turns out that long night navigations in the Galapagos aren’t too enjoyable. Similar to the navigation to and from Genovesa Island, we got rocked and rolled for the majority of the night again. I would like to say that we are pros at this by now, but it still stinks. Both of us have figured out how to ensure we don’t get sick, but that doesn’t make it any easier to sleep. Apparently we were not the only ones. At breakfast everyone was pretty blurry eyed from a lack of sleep. Kind of a rough start to the day.
The fortunate thing for all of us is that our day quickly became great! When we woke in the morning we were anchored off the north side of Floreana Island. Floreana has a unique history from whalers and pirates to German settlers to missing people and the like. A few of the stories are worth googling.
After breakfast we started the day with a nice panga (small boat) ride and then took a fairly short walk up to an amazing lookout platform named Baroness Lookout. It is one of the most picturesque sights I have enjoyed. In addition to the water and different color hues, there were sea turtles and sea lions playing in the cove below. VERY COOL!
And what was next to the panga when we got back to the beach? A very curious and playful young sea lion. Autumn took some great photos from about 5 feet away.
Next, it was on to Post Office Bay. This is a pretty neat story as well. When the English Whalers first came to the Galapagos one of the ships put an old rum barrel on the shore of this bay which was used to send mail back to England. If a ship was going home, they would grab the contents of the barrel and hand deliver it to the recipients. The tradition is still carried on today. We went through every post card in the barrel and there was one addressed close to where we live so, we grabbed it and will hand deliver it. Here comes your post card Inver Grove Heights! After going through all of the postcards, we dropped ours in the barrel. Supposedly it takes around 3 weeks for someone to deliver the postcard, but we shall see!
Next up for the day… Snorkeling. And GREAT snorkeling at that. In our 45 minute snorkel we saw loads of fish, probably 15 sea turtles, 4 sharks, numerous stingrays, several big puffer fish, a sea lion or two, and lots more. One of the sea turtles we saw was a huge male that was probably 6 feet long from head to tail. It was almost as big as me!
In the afternoon we did another great snorkel at the Devil’s Crown. It had even more fish than the snorkel in the morning. On one place in particular, the ocean bottom looked covered in a blanket of fish.
Oh, and we saw penguins too!
Finally, we wrapped up our most amazing day in the Galapagos with a hike to a beautiful white sand beach complete with sea turtles and sting rays EVERYWHERE! There were turtles nesting on the beach, turtles mating in the water, and turtles surfing waves. Totally amazing. There were also stingrays all over in the surf close to the shore. At first I thought they were rocks, but when I finally got a good look at them it turned out there were all different sizes from plate size to 3 feet across.
This was by far my favorite day in the Galapagos. I hope tomorrow brings more of the same!
We started our seventh day on Espanola Island. This island is known for the Waved Albatross (think The Rescuers Down Under…I did at least). We hiked around searching for them, but instead ran into many baby sea lions, marine iguanas, & Nazca Boobies. Many people had HUGE, expensive cameras on this trip. We had our fairly basic camera and it didn’t matter because the animals in all of the Galapagos are SO CLOSE and numerous that even we got good photos most of the time.
The playful sea lion pups varied in size and age, but most were between one week and one month old. So cute!! Unfortunately, for them, the flies loved them too! The waters are a bit warmer than normal which isn’t good for marine animals because the amount of fish declines. If mother sea lions can’t find enough food for themselves, then they will abandon their cute, furry babies. So, we spent a little too much time concerned about whether the baby was sad and looking for his mommy or just making weird noises for the fun of it.
We walked to the top of the cliffs and found many Waved Albatross! They stay high on the cliffs, so their not-so-graceful selves can take off and land easier. They basically barrel in and trip over their huge feet while attempting to land.
Then, we went to the beach to snorkel with sea lions, sea snakes, sting rays, sea turtles, and many other fish.
After lunch we cruised for 4 hours to San Cristobal Island. At this time I slept….I can’t seem to fight the “bug” I have, so I’m on antibiotics hoping some rest and meds will help. Drew sat at the front of the boat and enjoyed the awesome weather, jumping manta rays, and sea lions. Tomorrow is our last day…crazy!!!
Our last day on the Eden. While we have really enjoyed our time on the yacht, both Autumn and I are excited about the prospect of being back on land and sleeping in a stable bed. Today started with a 7am wake-up call for a jump on the pangas and a morning snorkel around Kicker Rock. These two huge rocks are the left overs of a volcanic cone and compose the nearly sheer cliffs down into the deep blue.
Honestly, my first thought when we got in the water and looked down was “This must be where they came up with the phrase Davey Jones’ locker.” I mean seriously, it was incredibly beautiful, but there was nothingness below us. Kind of crazy! As we same around the wall of rock, there were lots of different types of fish stratified at various depths. The smaller fish were closest to the surface with progressively larger fish at subsequent depths. Among the bigger fish was a large school of Black Fin Tuna patrolling.
We had been told that we might see sharks on the snorkel and we weren’t disappointed. Up to this point we had only seen white tipped reef sharks. This time we saw black tipped reef and best of all…. THREE HAMMERHEADS!!! Holy crap! Apparently Hammerheads are quite shy and will swim away if they see you (which is the opposite of what I had previously heard). Anywho, they were good sized, around 6 ft in length, but not too large where I was concerned about being eaten. I will admit that the da dum, da dum from Jaws was going through my head.
We also saw several sea turtles flying effortlessly through the water. The deep blue of the water makes for a good picture frame!
After the snorkel it was back on the boat to make our way to port to disembark. It truly was an amazing trip with beautiful animals to see both above and below the water.
For those of you that may be interested we would be happy to pass along more insight of how and when to go. A few things to keep in mind though:
1) No matter which islands you visit, if you are doing a longer voyage (5-8 days) you will have some long navigations which are quite rocky. Definitely not for those which get sea sick easily.
2) The vast majority of the cruises have a snorkel element to them. Typically 1 -2 times per day. If you are not up for snorkeling I recommend not going to the Galapagos. There are some interesting things to see on land, but you probably will only get about 40% of the experience.
3) It is very true that you can get much better deals booking a last minute cruise once you are in the Galapagos (ours was 50% less), but you are at the mercy of what’s available. Sometimes that can be good, other times things are very limited.
4) Unless you are going to spend 3 – 4 weeks in the Galapagos, you will not be able to see all of the islands. Our Cruise hit the central, southern, and western islands. This is a choice you will have to make. We did not see Isabella Island. I guess we will have to save that for another trip.