Watch your step!

Galapagos Islands Travel Blog

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Hanging with a sea lion

I am overwhelmed.  There is just too much to say about the last week on the Galápagos, or maybe I´m just getting lazy after a year of blogging.  Either way, I plan to save most of my stories for in person chats with family and friends when I return home next month, but feel free to send me questions.  My main message is this:  GO!  I know it is expensive, but if you can, organize your trip when you reach Quito.  You will save money.  I talked to one gal on my boat who was also doing the five-day cruise and she paid twice what I did because she booked from home.  That´s a lot of money when you consider how much I paid.  So if you have the time, get to Quito, book your trip a week or two in advance, and then travel around for a while before it starts.

Sally lightfoot crabs on Santa Cruz
  You can also do it on your own.  I just met some students here from the States and they flew out there and hung around for a week, bargaining for day tours at good rates.  I think there was some major flirting going on on their part to get these deals, but you can just go out there and piece things together. 

 

Having said that, I loved, loved, loved my tour.  We flew into Baltra and then headed to the islands of South Plaza, Santa Fe, Espanola (the best this time of year in the south) and Floreana before returning back to Santa Cruz and the largest city of Puerto Ayora.

One almost climbed in my lap until I moved and then he backed away
  Sometimes we traveled between islands overnight, sometimes by day while I laid flat on my back to avoid being sick.  Our days went mostly like this:  early rise, big breakfast (as was lunch and dinner), jump in the dingy for a wet or dry landing on one of the islands, explore, take loads of pictures, learn a ton of info from our guide, and then back to the boat for lunch.  We usually had an afternoon siesta and then an afternoon snorkeling session before dinner.  I can´t think of a better way to live!  The wildlife was the highlight, but I also lucked out and had a fun group on my boat (mostly my age), a great guide, hilarious Capitan and good crew. 

 

My favorite activity was snorkeling.  My last afternoon I swam with sea lions.

Brown Pelican
  One played with me for a while, circling around me and blowing bubbles.  Every once in a while a penguin would dart by.  I even snuck up on one hanging on the surface, but when he saw me, off he went.  I´m sure the fact I live in a landlocked state and don´t do this very often is part of my excitement, but I couldn´t get enough of it.  At one point we were snorkeling off this big rock, but there was a major current pushing us along causing me and four other girls to get separated from the group.  Luckily we ended up following the assistant guide, who at one point swam down to the bottom, grabbed something and brought it back up.  It was a puffer fish that was fully expanded as its defense by the time he reached us.  He was round and the size of a volleyball. Oh I wished I had an underwater camera then!  We each held him and then off he went.  What a treat!  That day we saw the most sharks, sea turtles and other underwater creatures, including a moray eel.
Sally lightfoot crab (they apparently eat each other)
  The other amazing thing I saw one day was this massive school of fish.  As I approached I thought it was a big rock, but upon getting closer, saw it was a group of dark fish, thousands in all.  Once in a while one would turn sideways, revealed a silver glow from the deep below. 

 

On land there was much to see and you could get up so close to the wildlife.  I saw about 15-20 speciecs of bird and about 15 other species of animal on land and underwater.  I loved the Blue-footed Boobies.  We lucked out and saw the Waved Albatross mating on Española.  Every time of year there is something special happening.  It´s just never a bad time to be there.

A land iguana - they eat cactus flowers
  Of course there are a ton of Marine Iguanas everywhere, always underfoot so you have to watch where you walk.  We only saw the Tortoise at the Darwin Research Centers on Santa Cruz and Isabela, but they are still in the wild. 

 

After my organized tour, I took a ferry over to the largest island of Isabela, home to about five volcanos.  I did a horseback riding tour to Sierra Negra, the oldest and highest one that just erupted in 2005.  You could see the lanes of lava flow that have since solidified into dark rock and ash.  The horseback ride was a little stressful as we had to trot through wet mud, with the horses slipping and sliding under us.  My horse managed to make it through without falling, but others were not so lucky.

A marine iguana - they are good divers but I didn´t get to see any underwater.
  It was really interesting to walk around in an active volcano!   I was glad I tacked on some extra days to see the volcano as I felt my trip to Isabela really rounded out my experience. 

 

I see that I´ve still managed to write a long blog despite my intentions, but there are so many little stories to tell. I´ll cut it here so I can get out and see Cuenca, where I am now.  I spent all day getting here and have to leave tomorrow for what will be two days of buses to get to Lima by Sunday.  So go to the Galapagos!.  I actually plan to go again someday, but next time I plan to be certified to dive with an underwater camera ready.    

bschooled says:
I read your blogs over and over because it has been such an inspiration for me...I am planining my trip to SA next year, and like you, I will be doing it solo...thanks for such amazing posts!!
Posted on: Aug 18, 2008
aswold says:
I can't wait to go, Glad you had a great time!
Posted on: Jul 21, 2008
cmgervais says:
So amazing! I have reworked my plans to include Galapagos. Thank you!
Posted on: Jul 07, 2008
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Hanging with a sea lion
Hanging with a sea lion
Sally lightfoot crabs on Santa Cruz
Sally lightfoot crabs on Santa Cruz
One almost climbed in my lap until…
One almost climbed in my lap unti…
Brown Pelican
Brown Pelican
Sally lightfoot crab (they apparen…
Sally lightfoot crab (they appare…
A land iguana - they eat cactus fl…
A land iguana - they eat cactus f…
A marine iguana - they are good di…
A marine iguana - they are good d…
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron
A marine iguana hanging on a park …
A marine iguana hanging on a park…
The Darwin, my home for the week. …
The Darwin, my home for the week.…
Frigate birds following our boat o…
Frigate birds following our boat …
They have great colors!
They have great colors!
Swallow-tailed gull. The red ring …
Swallow-tailed gull. The red ring…
She´s guarding an egg.
She´s guarding an egg.
The blue footed boobie, my favorit…
The blue footed boobie, my favori…
I loved watching these guys dive i…
I loved watching these guys dive …
Having fun with the camera.  Cactu…
Having fun with the camera. Cact…
Land iguana.  They were shedding s…
Land iguana. They were shedding …
Sea lions at their best.
Sea lions at their best.
Alex, my cabin mate, getting up cl…
Alex, my cabin mate, getting up c…
A pelican hanging around on our di…
A pelican hanging around on our d…
A pack of marine iguanas.
A pack of marine iguanas.
The waved albatross with its egg. …
The waved albatross with its egg.…
These two were walking in unison i…
These two were walking in unison …
More flirting.
More flirting.
Billy, our guide.  He´s lived on …
Billy, our guide. He´s lived on…
An albatross not so concerned abou…
An albatross not so concerned abo…
A Galapagos Hawk.
A Galapagos Hawk.
More sleeping - I just loved takin…
More sleeping - I just loved taki…
One sea lion posing for the photog…
One sea lion posing for the photo…
Albatross showing his moves for th…
Albatross showing his moves for t…
A headless masked boobie?
A headless masked boobie?
I love this photo because while ta…
I love this photo because while t…
Awww...
Awww...
In this picture are sea lions, mar…
In this picture are sea lions, ma…
A pelican in air.
A pelican in air.
Masked boobies on Espanola.
Masked boobies on Espanola.
Masked or Nazcar Boobie
Masked or Nazcar Boobie
Posing near a boobie
Posing near a boobie
Post Office Bay.  You leave a note…
Post Office Bay. You leave a not…
Going through postcards to see if …
Going through postcards to see if…
The mighty tortoise.
The mighty tortoise.
This fisherman was cleaning fish i…
This fisherman was cleaning fish …
A wet landing.  We would hop in th…
A wet landing. We would hop in t…
We caught the tortoises during lun…
We caught the tortoises during lu…
A penguin hanging out near some cr…
A penguin hanging out near some c…
More munching.
More munching.
These were baby tortoise at the Da…
These were baby tortoise at the D…
THE Lonesome George
THE Lonesome George
Tortoise porn
Tortoise porn
It can´t be easy munching without…
It can´t be easy munching withou…
Bonnie helping feed one of the tor…
Bonnie helping feed one of the to…
These guys were huge!  It takes ab…
These guys were huge! It takes a…
Street signs in Puerto Villamil, t…
Street signs in Puerto Villamil, …
A male and female tortoise.  I am …
A male and female tortoise. I am…
Tortoise at the breeding center on…
Tortoise at the breeding center o…
A new one.  I can´t believe they …
A new one. I can´t believe they…
Nice rear.
Nice rear.
Sierra Negra Volcano on Isabela, l…
Sierra Negra Volcano on Isabela, …
Looking into the volcano - you can…
Looking into the volcano - you ca…
Close up of the lava flow.
Close up of the lava flow.
Inside a volcano on Isabela
Inside a volcano on Isabela
Looking down into one of the crate…
Looking down into one of the crat…
At the precipice of a crater.
At the precipice of a crater.
Cactus was growing from the rock.
Cactus was growing from the rock.
You would think we were on the moo…
You would think we were on the mo…
A pretty landscape left over from …
A pretty landscape left over from…
The colorful rock.
The colorful rock.
Getting ready for the ride down.
Getting ready for the ride down.
After breaking through the fog on …
After breaking through the fog on…
The clouds revealing part of the A…
The clouds revealing part of the …
My shipmates during our one night …
My shipmates during our one night…
Galapagos Islands
photo by: Melboorn