Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Galapagos Part 2

On the evening of day 4 I returned to the pier with Augustin and Simona to meet the 9 new passengers. We had a Dutch/German couple, an older Australian couple, and 5 Japanese girls. 4 of the Japanese were travelling together, and the other Takako (my new roomie) has spent the last year in Ecuador so had good Spanish. We had dinner and a briefing as usual, and a few people even made an effort to stay up past 10pm!

This half of the trip was to involve much more travelling between Islands than the last one, much of this was done at night, and although I was one of the few who didn't get too sea-sick, it still made sleeping near impossible as I was still trying to hold on to my little top bunk.  Day 5 was at Floreana Island. The first stop was at Post Office Bay, where there's a store of postcards and notes which have all to be hand delivered: you search through and see if there's any for where you going to, it's been there since the days of the whalers. Nearby was another lava tunnel, this one a bit smaller, with no lights, so we had to use torches. After a certain point you were wading through water, but it was reasonably warm. This was quite fun! Afterwards we had some snorkelling from the beach. This is where we got to snorkel with giant turtles, being able to follow right behind them for quite some time as they swam along. At one point I could see three of them around me. Unfortunately I left the underwater camera I'd just bought on the beach as it was overcast and I thought I'd save it for better light!

After lunch we went round the corner to the Devil's Crown for more snorkelling. This is meant to be a top snorkelling site. It's, as it says, the crown of an old volcano, so it's a small island atoll a few tens of meters in diameter, there are reasonably strong currents and you snorkel from the dingy which is not so easy, and some people were clearly uneasy in the water. It was good, but not the best sight we saw.

The third day of the second trip we headed out to Espaniola Island, 8 hours overnight, nobody slept much, and a few were rather ill. It was compared to being inside a washing machine as the boat bobbed around on the open sea.  Here the main new attraction was Flamingos, there was a huge lagoon where we managed to see some up close, there was also another beach where you could see lots of sting rays.

Day 4/7 was first of all San Christobal, very early in the morning, where we say albatrosses for the first time, including babies, and baby boobies, bluefoot and Nazca. There was also a blowhole where the waves sent a jet of water into there due to the rock-formations. From this Island we also had the chance to snorkel: there was an island you could swim out to if you felt up to it, and Taco and myself took up the challenge, and spied another reef shark when we were out there. Then we had a bit of a gap until the next island when I stayed on deck and some of us managed to see a humpback whale, and I got a photo! The next island was Santa Fe Island, where we were meant to see more land Iguanas, unfortunately this was the only time we didn't see something we thought we might see. As usual there were hunners of seals. Before going to this second Island we snorkelled from the boat, where I had great fun playing with the seals, and got some great photos too.

On the final day before heading back to Baltra and the airport we had a pre breakfast trip to North Seymour Island. The big new attraction here was male frigatebirds in all their glory, inflating there chest sacks, quite a sight!

The airport was fairly chaotic to check in, but we got on our way eventually after a little souvenir shopping.

The trip wasy pretty amazing, there were just so many animals and so tame (very different to my jungle trips!). A slight let down was the groups didn't bond so well and so evenings were very quiet (though often lots of people were ill!). There were real language divisions, with Spanish, French and Italian groups on the first boat, and a big Japanese group on the second. Don't get me wrong, everyone was really nice. It was only really the last two nights that I managed to crack open the cheap Ecuadorian spirits I'd brought on board!  By this time the boat had ran out of red wine, whisky and tea! This was pretty poor considering we'd drunk about 1 bottle of red wine and 1.5 whiskies! Anyway, the final night it almost got lively, and we got Shakira on the stereo, and, as you do, had a bit of an oragami session, before some poor attempts at starting Karaoke. I think some of us even made 11pm. Rock and Roll!

Here's an incomplete list of animals I saw:
  • Sealions (two kinds)
  • Sea turtles and Giant Tortoises
  • Land and Sea Iguanas
  • Lava Lizards
  • Herons: Night, Lava and yellow crested.
  • Various Darwin Finches: Lava, Cactus, etc
  • Frigatebirds
  • Pelicans
  • Boobies: Blue-footed and Masked (Nazca)
  • Oyster Catchers
  • Cattle Egrets
  • Flamingos
  • American Golden Warbler
  • Mockingbirds
  • Galapagos Doves, Hawks and Ducks
  • Black headed gulls and little gulls (Noddies)
  • Storm Petrels
  • Sting Rays and Eagle Rays
  • White tipped Reef sharks and Dogfish
  • Octopus
  • King Angel-fish
  • Surgeon Fish
  • Moorish Idols
  • Cornet Fish
  • Puffer Fish
  • Parrot Fish
  • Humpback Whale
  • Others saw dolphins, I missed them though I was on deck and looking where they pointed :(

Going down a Lava Tunnel

Me by a pair of Boobies.

A baby Albatross

Me on a beach by more seals.

A frigatebird (Male).

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