39. GUAYAQUIL TO GUAYAQUIL

39. GUAYAQUIL TO GUAYAQUIL

2017-09-16T05:25:26+00:00February 8th, 2016|2015-16 Ride|

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 marine iguana are the world's only marine lizard and can dive down to 25 metres!

The marine iguana are the world’s only marine lizard and can dive down to 25 metres – these two are about to fight!

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!

Everything is so silent and still on this part of Santa Cruz Island

Everything is so silent and still on this part of Santa Cruz Island

Every bird and animal is endemic to the Galapagos Islands

Every bird and animal is endemic to the Galapagos Islands

The beautiful land iguana allows the Darwin finch to remove ticks from it's body!

The beautiful land iguana allows the Darwin finch to remove ticks from it’s body!

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.

Spotting blue-footed boobies

Spotting blue-footed boobies on Rabida Island

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The blue-footed booby uses its feet to incubate eggs, resting the eggs on top when they’re about to hatch!

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.

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Red scoria covers all of Rabida Island

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The Galapagos mockingbird are quite unafraid of people and very curious

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!

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Landing on the tiny Chinese Hat Island where visitors are restricted to protect the eco-system

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The cries from the babies trying to find their mothers is heart-wrenching and has us all spell-bound!

The remote landscape of Chinese Hat Island

The remote landscape of Chinese Hat Island

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Flamingos are flying past, pelicans are diving and sally lightfoot crabs are crawling everywhere!

On the way back to the boat we sight the endangered Galapagos penguin

On the way back to the boat we sight the endangered Galapagos penguin

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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!

The swell rises and falls 2-3 metres on the Prince Phillip steps

The swell rises and falls 2-3 metres on the Prince Phillip steps at Genovesa Island (he came here in 1964!)

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!

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A pair of Nazca Booby birds – they lay two eggs on the ground and the strongest chick kicks the other out of the nest!

The birds are so calm when we get up close!

The birds are so calm when we get up close!

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The wild, remote landscape on Genovesa Island

We move on to Darwin Bay – another beautiful beach – for more snorkelling – and more incredible bird life.

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The male frigate bird can enlarge his red sac to attract a partner

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Having a “staring” competition with a juvenile frigate bird!

We're not allowed to touch but you could - even with the baby!

A red-footed booby with her baby – they just don’t move when we approach them!

Interesting snacks and drinks after every outing!

Interesting snacks and drinks await us after every outing!

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BikesnBeers taking a break on the top deck!

It doesn't get much better than this!

It doesn’t get much better than this!

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.

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The towering spearhead of Pinnacle Rock rising from the ocean – the best known landmark in the Galapagos.

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Breathtaking panoramas from the summit of Santiago Island

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!

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Brightly colored lava lizards dot the black volcanic canvas

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We snorkel off this beach and see more turtles, sharks, sea lions, mantas and iguanas!

We motor back to Santa Cruz Island after our “last supper” – and it’s a time to reflect on our amazing trip.

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Great bunch of travellers – each with a story to tell!

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!

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A pelican comes to say good-bye as we leave the boat at sunrise!

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The giant land turtles in the “highlands” of Santa Cruz Island

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Marine iguanas everywhere on Tortuga Beach, Santa Cruz Island

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Las Grietas – a 10m deep “fracture” of crystal clear water and trapped fish – ideal for swimming or a snorkel!

Inside the amazing lava tunnels at Bella Vista, Santa Cruz Island

Inside the amazing lava tunnels at Bella Vista, Santa Cruz Island

Special People

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Our guide, Jaime, was very “cool”!

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.

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Diego – the dependable teddy-bear!

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!!

 

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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!!

 

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Sea lions, brown pelicans and marine iguana – all waiting for the scraps!

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How cute is this sea lion?!

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30 Comments

  1. Raewyn February 17, 2016 at 1:06 am

    A message from Ross- “If you are in Lima head inland to Chaclacayo and Chosica. That is where I lived most of my childhood!!! “

    • Lee February 17, 2016 at 6:06 pm

      Wow! We are actually trying to avoid Lima (and the traffic!) and giving it a very wide berth!! Stuck in Huanuco for fan repairs – so having a day off! How old was Ross when he left Peru?

      • Raewyn February 18, 2016 at 3:17 am

        Thirteen years old.
        His family had to leave as the military took over-a Coup!!

        • Lee February 18, 2016 at 5:59 pm

          So his memories would be very strong! If it wasn’t for the coup he might still be there!! xxxx

  2. Dave February 15, 2016 at 6:59 am

    Good break guys looks like you enjoyed it!! BUT back on the bikes guys more action🏍🍻

    • Lee February 16, 2016 at 12:10 am

      Yes Sir!! Heading south in Peru now…Macchu Piccu!

  3. Brian Johnson February 13, 2016 at 9:57 pm

    Great pictures Lee, a great reminder of that special time with you and Paul on that trip. Always beds for you in the old country and good luck in the next few legs of your journey. From the other oldest member of the 58 club!
    Brian x

    • Lee February 14, 2016 at 3:15 am

      Hey Brian! Thanks for that…it was definitely a very memorable trip and we thoroughly enjoyed your company! We’re up in the Andes and feeling the effects – from sea level this morning to 4230m and now down at 3100m for the night – can we register for your survey?! Keep in touch and here’s to the 58ers turning 58!! xxx

  4. alison morgan February 10, 2016 at 11:04 pm

    Loved it all Lee you both looked very relaxed and enjoying xxxx

    • Lee February 12, 2016 at 12:40 am

      Thanks Alison – it was a wonderful break from the bikes – we did relax but it is sooo good to be back on them!! xxxx

  5. Cindy February 10, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    Gorgeous photos! So glad to be able to see all of this through your blog!

    • Lee February 10, 2016 at 4:12 pm

      Thanks guys! A little piece of paradise on this earth that we were blessed to see!

  6. Sandy February 10, 2016 at 7:35 am

    Thankyou for sharing the Galapagos experience – truly beautiful. Stay Safe.
    Love, Sandy

    • Lee February 10, 2016 at 4:11 pm

      It was very beautiful Sandy – one of those occasions when you know you are part of something so special. We’re heading up into the Andes now – they reckon Peru is amazing….

  7. Beverley February 9, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    Trip of a lifetime on top of another trip of a life time. Looks fabulous.

    • Lee February 10, 2016 at 4:08 pm

      It really is Bev!! Only 12,000km to go now but this could be the best roads….

  8. Mark February 9, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    I’m very jealous, would love to do that trip! Unfortunately my wife is not that adventurous,
    Keep having an adventure and plenty of fun!

    • Lee February 9, 2016 at 2:47 pm

      Thanks Mark! Will do…the road awaits!! Just have to fit new tyres to Paul’s bike and we’re off again!!

  9. Hilda Pye February 9, 2016 at 2:19 am

    Hi Lee + Paul
    I keep saying it but, AMAZING photos. What a fabulous way to “spoil yourselves”. Think will have to rethink that one on the bucket list! Take care, and stay safe on the next leg of your incredible journey xox

    • Lee February 9, 2016 at 2:45 pm

      Hey Guys! You would love it and we got it right doing the cruise straight from the airport! Could have done a few days more but it was a pretty hectic routine!! Looking forward to hitting the road….xxxx

  10. Kelly Carter February 9, 2016 at 2:01 am

    Incredible photos! Great colour!

    • Lee February 9, 2016 at 2:43 pm

      Thanks Kells! It was certainly a special place to visit and we’re so glad we did it xxxx

  11. Sue Hird February 9, 2016 at 12:12 am

    Yet more adventures but this time with other people and being “led”! Do hope your cabin on the boat was extra comfy and you enjoyed being looked after.
    Amazing creatures.
    XO

    • Lee February 9, 2016 at 1:38 am

      Our cabin was just fabulous Sue – spacious, big ensuite and a lovely view – enjoyed any time we could spend in there. The whole experience was a treat – we were the “oldest” people on the boat!! Very special xxxx

      • Beryl February 10, 2016 at 5:16 am

        Hi Lee and Paul

        What a fabulous journey. Cant wait to hear all about it. So many history lessons also.

        xxx Beryl

        • Lee February 10, 2016 at 4:09 pm

          Hey you!! Looking forward to home but also can’t waste a second this incredible journey! Looking forward to a big hug xxxx

  12. Gillian February 8, 2016 at 11:44 pm

    How wonderful! Sounds beautiful and very interesting! Xo

    • Lee February 9, 2016 at 1:33 am

      Loved every second Gill – a little slice of heaven! Looking forward to getting back on the road and heading south…! xxxx

  13. Rod & Susie February 8, 2016 at 11:26 pm

    Just awesome, awsome, awsome. Definitely on the bucket list.
    We’re off to Nelson, British Columbia on 11 Feb to catch up with Bri & hit the ski slopes. Bumper season.

    • Lee February 9, 2016 at 1:32 am

      Good stuff – heard it’s full on this year – have an awesome time! Nelson is just gorgeous! xxxx

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