The Galapagos Islands are 1,000 kilometres off the coast of mainland Ecuador – a two hour flight from Guayaquil. It’s a pristine, isolated area with rare animal species – found nowhere else in the world! We have taken a “last minute deal” on a luxury boat called the Gran Natalia – for four nights and five days – and are very excited! There are eight well-appointed and roomy guest cabins on two decks – all with a very similar layout – and ours is just off the main dining/lounge area. We have fourteen other guests from all over the world and it’s a treat for us to be speaking English and having other people to talk to! Lunch is served and we can all see that the food is going to be more than adequate and plentiful!!
We motor round Santa Cruz Island and are taken towards shore on two zodiacs (pangas) for snorkelling. The abundance of marine life is crazy – it’s like floating round in an aquarium – except there’s Paul diving and swimming along the sea bottom beneath you! One couple have a sea lion come right up to their masks and we see turtles, stingray, sea snakes, star fish and so many different species of fish. We come ashore for a hike in a remote and pristine part of the island – there are marine iguana, orange and aqua crabs, birds and land iguana – and a fading light!
The wildlife are totally oblivious to us as our guide, Jaime (pronounced Hi-me), “speaks” quite cleverly to a Galapagos Mockingbird – up so close it is unbelievable!
Everyone is hitting a wall after dinner from early morning travel but just as we’re about to head to our cabins there is excitement down the back of the boat! The lights have attracted fish – and these have attracted lots of sharks! We start heading for Rabida Island around 4am and get the breakfast “bell” at six – the island is scoria and gets hot very quickly so we need to have an early hike! As we approach the cliffs in the zodiacs, we can see more iguanas basking and light-blue-footed boobies.
We come ashore on a red scoria beach and head up through the landscape – lots of endemic birds, lava lizards and some turtle nests in the dunes.
We snorkel in this area and a white-tip reef shark goes right beneath me, several manta rays and lots of beautiful fish. Jaime has convinced us the sharks have plenty to eat so we can snorkel with them without fear! We have lunch and a break as the boat motors to Chinese Hat Island for more snorkelling and a late walk on the island – and we watch baby sea lions reunite with their mothers!
After dinner we motor seven hours north to Genovesa Island – a gentle roll on the boat rocks us to sleep – and the stars and birds follow us all the way!
At sunrise we try a “dry” landing but the swells are too big against the rocks so we snorkel and do some kayaking. Finally we get ashore on Genovesa and the bird life is phenomenal – large birds – and we can go up so close – even when they have babies!
We move on to Darwin Bay – another beautiful beach – for more snorkelling – and more incredible bird life.
We sail overnight to Bartolome Island and have an early walk to the summit – it is so still and like a moonscape – with amazing views and the famous shark fin, Pinnacle Rock.
Just across a narrow channel west lies Sullivan Bay on Santiago Island and the landing offers one of the most outstanding volcanic sites in the Galapagos. Just over a century ago, the island gave birth to a field of lava called pahoehoe (“rope-like” in Hawaiian), which gleams like a gigantic obsidian sculpture – it feels like it just happened yesterday!
We motor back to Santa Cruz Island after our “last supper” – and it’s a time to reflect on our amazing trip.
We’ve made friends with some wonderful people – had an awesome crew – and seen and learnt about one of the world’s very special and unique destinations. The images of the Galapagos – where the human imprint is kept to a minimum – will stay in our heads forever!
We knew at the airport we had “lucked in” on a good guide – Jaime had great people skills and enjoyed sharing his love for the Galapagos Islands in such a delightful and passionate way – we felt very privileged! There were nine crew for sixteen guests and they all played a role in making our journey special and very memorable.
Tip of the Day
Imitating a sea lion on the sand does not always mean he will talk to you – humans are not predators – so they sleep through anything!!
Story of the Week
We’ve paid a million bucks to come to the Galapagos Islands and go on a luxury cruise to see a pristine part of the world and the unique birds and animals that are part of it. At the local fish market on the main island of Santa Cruz we can see most of this wildlife in one spot!!