Two Weeks In The Mighty Galapagos

Oh, where to start !  We’d anticipated that the Galapagos Islands would be one of the highlights of our trip, and so it was.  The variety and abundance of wildlife here is astonishing.  We decided that there wasn’t any point skimping on a trip as expensive as this (and, believe me, the Galapagos is expensive), so we arrived in Quito on a Sunday night and spent Monday trotting round the travel agents trying to decide whether we should go on a cruise, or be land-based.  We’d also done some googling around, and come across a company called Galakiwi offering land-based cruises, with space departing in a few days time.  They offered a good mix of activities with an expert guide, so we went with them, and on the following Saturday, we flew to San Cristobal Island in the Galapagos Archipelago.  The itinerary would also take us to the islands of Floreana, Isabella and Santa Cruz, travelling by boat.  By way of light relief, our hotel room on San Cristobal used to be the island’s disco, so it has a bar, sadly no longer in use, a cloakroom and two separate toilets.  It must have been a bit of a crush on a Saturday night.
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Anyway, rather than bang on about how we got around and where we stayed, here’s some photographs of the wildlife and other notable sights.  We took about 800 photographs during the week, and these are only a few of them.  Wildlife is everywhere, and it doesn’t seem too concerned about people.  Of the islands, 97% is national park.  Here’s a sea lion.
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The weather was pretty much perfect for our trips between the islands, and also for the snorkelling we did.  This is Kicker Rock, where we snorkelled with Galapagos Sharks in the prominent gully between the two parts of the rock.  I’d never seen that many sharks in one place before: there must have been 60 or 70 of them as well as turtles, rays, inquisitive sea lions and massive shoals of fish.  The abundance is amazing.
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We saw a large pod of dolphin as we journeyed between San Cristobal and Floreana.  They played in front of the boat for half an hour or so.
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On Floreana, we ventured into the highlands and saw this short-eared owl.
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Frigate birds are everywhere.  This one’s got his pouch inflated and heart-shaped!
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And, of course, marine iguanas, one of the Galapagos’ iconic animals.  They get everywhere, and we saw them in town, on remote islands, and also swimming in the water whilst we were snorkelling.
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Careful, now.  Don’t seen many signs like this in the UK 🙂
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Another iconic animal, the giant tortoise.
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They’re making great efforts to increase the populations of tortoises: here’s a small giant at a breeding centre.  The young are released back to the island of their ancestors at 4 or 5 years old.
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Here’s Diane wondering what life would be like carrying around such a huge shell.
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We walked up and round the caldera of Volcan Sierra Negra, on Isabella Island.  It’s reportedly the second-largest caldera in the world, after Ngorogoro in Africa.  It was a seven hour round trip, and just after we turned round to come home, it rained.  Not slightly, but really, really heavily, and for a couple of hours.  By the end, all the paths had flooded, and we were wading through four-inch deep water.  It took me three days to dry my shoes, even with the assistance of the tropical sun.
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Anyway, here we are looking dry.  It started to rain about ten minutes later.
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Next to our hotel on Isabella was a salt lagoon, with flamingos.
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The tortoises roam wild on parts of Santa Cruz island, like this guy here on the road.
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The blue-footed booby.  Enough said.  We resisted the urge to buy any merchandise, t-shirts, badges, hats, aprons, anything, which made a play on the word booby, though there was plenty to be had.
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A Sally Lightfoot crab, and more sea lions.
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No visible animals, but a beautiful beach: Tortuga Bay, on Santa Cruz.
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The fisherman land their catches in Puerto Ayora, on Santa Cruz, and the sea lions and pelicans know it, and do well.  The brown sign in the background says don’t feed the animals 🙂
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And here’s Lonesome George, the last of his kind.
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We stayed on in Santa Cruz for another five days, and I went diving.  Unbelievable.  The number of different species, and the abundance of them, were really fantastic.  I’ve never dived anywhere before where you needed four different signs for the sharks you might see, and we saw them all, including the famous circling hammerheads.  All in all, a fantastic, fantastic experience.  Unfortunately, back to Quito now, and then to Canoa, on the coast.

1 comment to Two Weeks In The Mighty Galapagos

  • Sandra Newell

    Hi Di

    Just managed to catch up with your blog tonight. What an experience. I must say your accommodation looks a bit better than a Premier Inn or a two man hike tent!

    I’m plodding along doing my craft workshops. Had lunch with Mo yesterday. We should have gone down to Barrington court but Mo was a little bit off colour and the rain and hail was a bit daunting so we went for lunch instead!

    Will catch up later on.


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