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The Galapagos islands...The Cruise

ECUADOR | Wednesday, 27 April 2011 | Views [2671] | Comments [2]

Welcome to Ecuador!!

Arriving in Quito it was way too cold to stay for any length of time! So, we headed straight to the Galapagos islands!  We booked flights for the following day at 9.15am which was fantastic! I had been so cold for about 2 weeks that I thought I´d turned into an ice cube.  The flight went via Guayaquil and we landed in 30 degree heat on the Galapagos...perfect! 

The airport looked like a shed, it was really funny!! We took a free bus to the boat taxi and saw that even the water there was a bluey turquiose colour...clearer than anything I'd seen before. I knew this was going to be good (as if I needed convincing).

We spent the afternoon looking for boats...there were a few about and after further investigation and some negotiation we settled on a boat called the Millenium.  It was leaving the following day and the trip was for 5 days on a tourist class boat which was up a level from the usual economy class backpacker style...it looked amazing and we were excited! I´ve never done something so posh!!  We'd get to see Isabella and Fernandina too which not a lot of people go to so that was pretty exciting as well!

Puerto Ayora is a small port on Santa Cruz where the main set up to the islands is.  There are quite a few travel agents, restaurants and hotels...we found a great hotel deal too, having a 5 bed room to ourselves including a bathroom and a lovely terrace ontop! That night we had some food in a lovely restaurant and fell asleep about 8.30pm (Galapagos is 1 hour behind mainland Ecuador) - I was exhausted from so much travelling over the past few days from Cali and down through Ecuador itself.  Breakfast was included and the morning was spent sorting the last bits for our trip - sea sickness tablets, anti-histamine for mosquito bites and of course a manicure so we could look our best on the boat. We also saw the local fish market.

A speedboat took us over to the bottom of Isabella island to meet our cruise ship, before being met by a zodiac (dingy to you and me) and taken to our ship.  As soon as we arrived we were wisked off to a snorkelling session, getting straight in there!  We were taken along the edge of the black lava island and the well known Blue-footed Boobies were hanging out (they look like normal black and white birds but have blue feet and people in Galapagos love them), below them were sitting these bright orange crabs.  I only wish I had my camera with me to take a photo!  Still I was told I would see more on our cruise so I wasn't worried too much, we didnt actually see them on the rest of the cruise (apparently they were flying around but we didnt notice them), it became our goal to find them!

The water was cold for the snorkelling, we saw a lot of sergeant major fish among others, they were amazing!  There were also some pink and purple fish that shimmered a silvery translucent colour which were more unusual and quite intreging too.

Back on board we explored the boat and found our room, which was fablous and allowed us to have a shower in full view of the Galapagos!

Watched the sun set:

And welcome drink followed before dinner...  

All the food on the ship was great, buffet style, there was always a good selection and I never went without carbs despite avoiding wheat the whole time...we didn't have pasta once!  There were even a few crazy desserts and a massive birthday cake thrown into the mix for a fellow passenger!

We travelled at night to make the most of our days in the Galapogas and went to walks and snorkelled each morning and afternoon.  Our guide was really informative and was always full of useful facts if we were interested.

Day 2 - Good Friday

7am rise before a Lava walk at Punto Moreno, on the lava island of Isabella, there were lagoons with fish in including some mullet

A few cacti and other species of plants indeginous to the Galapagos. 

We also saw flightless cormorants, seals, a lava lizard

2 flamingos

and a land iguana.  Unfortunately my camera battery ran out on that one!

More snorkelling followed, more sergeant major fish as well as many other fish that I   don´t know the names of, and a stone fish!  I kept well away from that one! Visibility wasn´t great to be honest, similar to the day before, but it was warmer than the snorkelling the day before and I knew the best was yet to come.

After more food, we went on a zodiac ride to Punta Mangle, on the Isla Fernandina, which has just been opened up to tourists so it was a special treat.  The guide had only been twice in his 22 years of guiding! It was like a lagoon, with a group of sea lions playing, we even saw a sea turtle which was enormous but very hard to photograph!

There were many birds too including a pelican.

More snorkelling followed and we were with the sea lions which was fun! More sunbathing, another gorgeous sunset and dinner on the ship followed.

Day 3 - Easter Saturday

We woke up with no-one in sight, it was amazing!!

For our first stop we landed on a small peninsular and headed through some undergrowth where we found a seal asleep under a tree...very cute...

Turning the corner we saw the biggest collection of marine iguanas I think I´ll ever see!  They were all standing to attention staring at the sun, soaking up the heat as they hung out.  It was a real sight. 

There were so many iguanas around, it was difficult not to step on them!!  They are very funny!

They were actually quite hard to see as well so we had to be careful not to stand on them! A baby seal also walked past...so sweet!!

Further on there were more seals playing around in the water...I´ll upload some videos when I get a moment.

The Lava Herons were out in force....

And I loved the crabs...so colourful

We also saw a whale carcus...which had been left there, it was so big!!

Snorkelling followed and this was much better visibility than before, I don´t have the words for it!! We swam with turtles, seals and a lot of different fish which I don´t know the names for...there was massive schools of fish and so many different colours it was unreal.  This is what Galapagos was all about!

In the afternoon we went on a hike at Darwins Lagoon (technically its a fake one and not the one Darwin went to but no-one is allowed to that one so they named this one Darwins Lake too - very strange!) 

It was supposed to be a two hour hike but we smashed it in an hour and got to do more snorkelling too!! :)

The snorkelling again was out of this world. We swam with sooo many turtles, star fish, pufferfish, and unfortunately some jellyfish too!

Following snorkelling we watched the sunset again and saw dolphins swimming by the boat as well. Perfect, another great end to a fabulous day.

Day 4 - Easter Day

We started off with a wet landing on James Bay, the forna and scenery were once again outstanding and there was only one other boat that we saw...although it was slightly more civilisation than we were used to it wasn´t too bad!

The walk took us to see more iguanas, lagoons with turtles swimming in.

There were fur seals were sleeping in the shade before dipping into the water, floating...I´ve got a great video I will upload at some point of that. And we saw some more birds.

We also saw our first Galapagos penguin, they are tiny. He was just lying on his tummy on the lava.

We went snorkelling off the land this time. It was like ridiculous!!  We swam out amongst lots of coral and many many fish - barracudas, tropical fish and sting rays.  We were alerted to a reef shark too and went to check it out, it was sleeping, then someone saw another swimming around so we went to chase it....it was so cool! Good job they don´t bite people!!

We also found a spot where the fur seals were feeding.  There were many fish clustered around and the seals with trying to catch the fish under the water before ocassionally coming up for breath every now and then. It was an amazing sight to see!!  Someone else even saw an octopus too!

Just before lunch a flock of birds also flew across the sky, I felt like I could nearly touch them!

In the afternoon we went to Sombrero China for another lava walk, the baby seals wouldn´t leave us alone!  And there were more iguanas to try and avoid - they are easily mistaken for rocks as they are black to camoflarge themselves into the land.  I was just worried I was going to step on one!!

More snorkelling ment we swam with the tiny Galapagos penguins...they are very surpring creatures.  Moving slowly and hanging out on the rocks.  Swimning slowly with their tiny wings ontop of the water but then underneath the water going as fast as a rocket!!  We saw lots of starfish, sting rays, many different fish and someone saw a white tip shark too!  Glad I missed that one!!  We did see a lot more of the Galapagos penguins though...they are so sweet, very small, standing very still on the rocks, swimming slowly with their wings on waters surface and then swimming as fast as a bullet underwater...amazing!!

The day was finished off with Caprinihas, as our last evening on the ship.

Day 5

We got up early and went on a zodiac ride through the mangroves at Black Turtle Cove. 

The aim was to find turtles.  However initially all we saw were small hammer-head sharks!  They were tiny but very cool and came in a school.  We also saw a couple of turtles which was great. The zodiac we were on actually broke down though!!  This was slightly worrying as some people had to catch flights that morning!  Luckily the other zodiac was working and could pull us along.

The ship dropped us off at the airport and Sam, our guide, took our passports so we could get a Galapagos stamp in them!

Im going to add the next few days on Galapagos in another post as Ive already probably added too many photos to this page! I cant tell you how amazing Galapagos was though. 

Tags: galagagps cruise, galapagos, galapagos islands, isabella, millenium cruise, quito, santa cruz




I just wanted to take a minute to tell you that you have a great site! Keep up the good work.

  Croatia Gulet May 31, 2011 12:15 PM


Thanks so much...just uploaded another post! There will be more coming soon too.

  moomazza Jun 2, 2011 2:54 AM

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