A Travellerspoint blog

Santa Fe

semi-overcast 25 °C

We awoke to find ourselves at Santa Fe Island, anchored in a beautiful calm turquoise cove. For those of us who have never slept on a boat before its certainly a unique experience. We woke up a couple times during the night to what I can only describe as a roller coaster ride, but we made it through with no issues. This is a good place to make a point, its worth it to make sure everything that can move around in your cabin is put away or secured before bed. The bathroom door is hooked in place but can still move a bit, good idea just close it.

Breakfast on the boat is served at 7am, the crew call the passengers to each meal or snack with a ringing of the bell. This would soon prove Pavlov's dog theory. Breakfast is followed by a quick repeat of the briefing we received last night on the days activities. So what to bring with us, camera, sunscreen, water, if it was to be a wet or dry landing on the island.

We got ourselves ready and jumped into the panga (dingy)and off to the island. The island of Santa Fe is home to sea lions, many species of birds, land iguana's and a cacti forest.

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These three and males, larger and more colorful, so as to attract the female iguana's.

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The cacti have grown tall to avoid being eaten by the land iguana's, who love to eat the little cactus pears that grow on them. The iguana's will sit under the trees and wait for the pears to fall off.

As we continued our walk which was about an hour we came across a Galapagos Hawk, which here in the islands are at the top of the food chain.

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We continued our walk down to a beach near where we would be picked up and found sea lions, including a curious little pup who came for a visit. In the Galapagos visitors are not allowed to approach or touch the wildlife, but the wildlife is allowed to approach and touch you.

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It was time to head back to the boat for our morning snack (ringing of the bell) and to get ourselves ready for a snorkel.

Wetsuits, masks snorkels, fins, underwater camera, into the panga and into the water we go. Right below us were some White Tipped Shark's, which are most active at night. Lots a fish and couple curious sea lions swam along with us, while the current pulled us along to the end of our snorkel. We also got to see a large Spotted Eagle Ray.

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We were collected by the panga's and returned to the boat to dry off and have a break before lunch and a short sail to South Plaza Island. After lunch there was a mock saftey drill, 3 short sirens followed by a long continuous one. We grabbed our life jackets and met in the main cabin. Apparently our group was very quick and organized, a good thing when you need to evacuate the boat. Richard our guide went over the safety procedures of the boat, how to put on our life jackets and what to do in the event of an emergency.

We soon got to South Plaza Island, we were originally only going to do a panga ride along the coast as the island had been closed for study. Our guide learned that the island had been recently opened to visitors again. Off we when for walk around the island, many land iguana's, sea lion and birds call this small island home. After our walk we boarded the panga's for a quick trip to the coast of North Plaza Island, then back on board the boat.

After we all had a chance to shower and relax a bit, we were called to the main cabin for a briefing of tomorrows activities and a little bit of Q&A for about the where we had visited and what we saw today.

At 7 pm the dinner bell rung and dinner was served, the food so far has been great. After dinner we tried to play some cards and visit with the other passengers but everyone was tired from the days activities. Nobody won the card game and I think everyone was in bed by 9pm.

Posted by MRCL72 05:55 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

All Aboard

overcast 25 °C

Well this morning we said goodbye to Shangri-La and hello to Tip Top III, our home for the next 8 days and 7 nights.

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And what a wonderful boat it is, carrying all 16 of its passengers in comfort and style around the Galapagos Islands. Our fellow travellers were late arriving in the Galapagos so we got a personal tour of the Darwin Station in Puerto Ayora. Here they study, breed and try to build up the turtle population. The research station also studies Iguana's both land and marine. They also host researchers from around the world in an attempt to learn as much about the species that call the Galapagos home.

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Unfortunately in June 2012 long time resident of the Darwin Station Lonesome George pasted away. He was the last of his sub species of tortoise.

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Back onboard the boat we met our fellow travellers, and our naturalist guide Richard. Richard grew up on the Galapagos Island of Isabella, the largest of all the islands. His love and respect for nature and his home was evident right from the beginning. We also met the 7 crew members who would do their absolute best to make our trip incredible. That evening we got to know our fellow travellers and what a great group of people they all were.

As the engines fired up and the dinner bell was rung we said to goodbye to Puerto Ayora.

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Posted by MRCL72 18:00 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

Bartolome Island

sunny 25 °C

December 19th, we took a cruise out to Bartelome Island which has one of the highest peaks in the Galapagos Islands. The views from up top were beautiful, the island also has Pinnacle Rock which is one of the most photographed places in the Galapagos.

The morning started bright and early with pick up at 6am on the bus and off to the marina to catch the boat. We were ferried over to the Queen Karen 1, where a chef in full whites had breakfast waiting for us.

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We had fruit, cereal, yogurt, milk, coffee and tea. Just when we thought we were done, out came the scrambled eggs, fried bologna, tomatoes and toast. All done by plate service, what a great way to start the day.

As we cruised to Bartolome Island we were met by a school of dolphins and one sea lion. Unfortunately, I didn't get a shot of the sea lion he was just to fast.

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Once we got to the island we were greeted by this little guy sunning himself on the rocks.

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As with all the Galapagos Islands, Bartolome is a volcanic island, very barren and inhospitable. But life still goes on here.

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The Sally Lightfoot crabs are everywhere to, they are a protected species to help increase the numbers. We even got to see some Galapagos penguins even though this is not the season for them. A few of the little guys stayed behind to let us take pictures. As we climbed to the top of Bartolome, we found a Galapagos Hawk. Who let us take several pictures and then went about hunting for food.

Leaving the island these 2 were there to say adios.

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The trip also included some snorkel time at a beautiful beach on Santiago Island. Again the penguins came for a visit but are much to fast in the water for pictures, but we got some great photos of the animals in shallows.

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The sea life in these Islands are amazing, what a great place. Once getting back on the boat to return to Santa Cruz, we were fed a wonderful lunch. All said and done it was a great day.

Tomorrow afternoon we board the boat for our cruise. We wish you all Feliz Navidad, and please watch for more updates after Dec 28th. We promise to take lots of pictures.

All.jpg All of us at the top of Bartolome Island.

Posted by MRCL72 20:07 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

Dive Day

sunny 25 °C

December 18 was dive day for Vaughn, myself, Kaytlyn and Tyson. Which started very early with Scuba Iguana. If your coming to the Galapagos and are looking for a dive shop, this is the one. I have never had someone put my fins on during a dive trip before, but it happened on Scuba Iguana's boat. We were also served a hot lunch at the end of our dives while on our way back to Island.

Our first dive was at Beagle Rock.

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The amount of sea life seen during our dives here is amazing, just an abundance of life under the water. Except coral reefs, the water is too cold for coral to grow in any great amount. We wore 7mm wetsuits on these dives, boots, hoods and gloves to help keep us warm.

Getting ready to take the plunge.

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Everywhere you look there was something to see. I was unable to take a picture of the Manta Ray and the White Tipped Shark, the visibility under the water wasn't the greatest.

Our second dive of the day took us to Daphne Minor as we approached the Sea Loins were sunning themselves on the rocks.

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The first picture is of Tyson and Vaughn underwater and the second picture is of Richard and Kaytlyn underwater.

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We also got a visit from a friendly Sea Lion who came down to investigate us. He did a few circles around our group and then headed back to the surface.

It was a great diving experience.

Posted by MRCL72 11:10 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

Welcome to the Galapagos

overcast 26 °C

What a beautiful place. The airport here is located on a small Island called Baltra. Once you have bought your National Park Pass and collected your luggage, you board a bus for a quick trip to the ferry to Santa Cruz Island.

Where they take your luggage and load it on top of this small covered boat, which rides very low in the water and scoot you across the channel to Santa Cruz.

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All the taxis here are small pickup trucks, which works well with the tourist's and our luggage. We were met by a tour guide and 2 taxi's. We then headed to private ranch to see some of the giant tortoise's. Which come up to the highlands of Santa Cruz to feed on the grasses during the dry season. They return back to the low lands in the rainy season to breed and lay eggs. Which are mostly collected by the tortoise breeding centre here.

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The tortoises remind me of cattle in Alberta, they are everywhere.

We arrived at our destination of Puerto Ayora, where the majority of people on Santa Cruz Island live. The main industry here is tourism. There is some farming, but not enough to feed the 10000 tourist's that arrive each month to see the Galapagos. Most of the food here is now imported from Ecuador, which has created another problem. This commercial activity has lead to the introduction of new plants and animals to the Islands.

We took a water taxi to Finch Bay, where our rental house Shangri-La was located.

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After we got settled, we headed out to have a look at the town and find some dinner. The food here has been exceptional, very fresh and well made. The fishermen were selling their catch of the day at a local fish market. And lobster seemed to be the most plentiful.

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After dinner we headed back to Shangri-La for an early night.

Posted by MRCL72 09:53 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

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