The Galápagos Islands Day 7

Tuesday, April 12th, 2022

This morning we were at Puerto Egas (Egas Port) on Santiago Island. Our landing this morning was a wet landing so we carried our hiking shoes in a dry bag. The yacht also provided us with a special cloth for wiping the sand off of our feet before we put on our socks and shoes! It really helped. Our landing was a black sand beach.

This was the only place where we saw Galápagos Fur seals. They are endemic to the Galápagos Islands and are the smallest of the eared seals. We saw them resting on the rocks or playing in the water!

There was an abundance of marine and land animal life this morning. Below are just a sampling from our morning walk!

This area had black volcanic formations and also rock crevices and tide pools. The shoreline was carved from the water into interesting shapes. This area provided homes for a lot of creatures.

After our hike we went back to the yacht to get on our wetsuits and grab our gear for a snorkeling adventure off of the dinghy.

The pictures below were taken by Fernando with Dave’s GoPro! The quality is so much better than our underwater camera. The variety of fish that we observed was unbelievable. Everywhere we snorkeled there was something different to see. We were blown away!

When we were finished snorkeling our chef on the yacht gave a ceviche demonstration. He taught us how it was made and Fernando interpreted for him because he doesn’t speak much English.

After Eddy, the chef, finished his demonstration, we then had some for lunch! It was delicious! Our yacht then sailed to Bartolomé Island. It was a small island and it is known for its Pinnacle Rock, it looked like an obelisk. It was a volcanic plug that was part of an eroded volcanic dike that once connected Bartolomé Island and Santiago Island.

Pinnacle Rock in the distance

We did an afternoon snorkeling from the dinghy near Pinnacle Rock. We were excited because we saw Galápagos penguins up on the rocks!

Galápagos Penguins

We were thrilled to have the penguins join us in the water and swam all around!

We observed a lot of sea life when we snorkeled both this morning and this afternoon. There was a blacktip shark, stingrays, and huge schools of fish.

We changed into our hiking clothes and shoes and had a dry landing for our hike on Bartolomé. We hiked up Escalera Hill where we saw lava bombs, spatter, and cinder cones. The Galápagos National Park Service built stairs (about 375 steps) for the climb.

Grey Matplant was found growing on the side of the volcano and is endemic to the Galápagos Islands.

The views from the top were awesome. We read that if it was a clear day you could see more than ten islands.

Once we were back on board the yacht, we had our briefing for tomorrow’s activities and also watched the last of the Galápagos Affair. It was another fantastic day in the Galápagos.

The Galápagos Islands Day 5

Sunday, April 10th, 2022

This morning began with a dry landing and hiking on Espinoza Point or Punta Espinoza. As we got off the dinghy we saw a striated heron in the mangroves. It was also known as a mangrove heron.

Striated Heron

Of course there were sally lightfoot crabs scrambling around the area.

Espinoza Point is located on the northeastern shore of Fernandina Island. There was a colony of marine iguanas, about 1,000 to 2,000 resting on the lava. We were there early enough that the iguanas were still warming up and didn’t need to cool off in the ocean. On our hike we saw nests for the iguanas so you had to be careful and make sure you stayed on the marked trail.

Look closely at the two pictures below and see if you can find the marine iguanas within the lava. They were camouflaged very well.

Flightless Cormorants were spotted and we even saw a pair talking to each other. This bird is endemic to the Galápagos Islands. It was the only known cormorant that can’t fly. Its wings had become shorter and not long enough to fly. The Flightless Cormorants had adapted so well to swimming in the water and diving they no longer needed to fly!

A brown pelican was relaxing on the lava.

Brown Pelican relaxing

Lava cacti were all around the Point.

A Bryde’s whale skeleton was also spotted as we walked around trying not to stop on the marine iguanas.

Bryde’s whale skeleton

Sea lions were also lazing in the sun.

Sleeping Sea Lion

When we rounded the cove the waves on the other side were pretty high!

Big Surf

After our hike we got back on the dinghy and went to the ship to get on our snorkeling gear. When we were ready we rode the dinghy to our snorkeling area and jumped off the side. We saw sea lions playing in the water and swimming around us.

After our morning snorkel we went back to the ship. Once on board we saw a large turtle swimming by our yacht. It was most likely a green sea turtle and their status was endangered.

After lunch we cruised to our next stop, Elizabeth Bay, Isabela Island. As we sailed we enjoyed the views from our cabin balcony.

This afternoon Fernando, our guide, gave a lecture on Marine Iguanas. We learned that the marine iguanas have a lower metabolic need and eat about 30 grams of food per month where a bird needs 30 grams per day. Another interesting fact was that they can’t walk and breathe at the same time! The Galápagos marine iguanas are the only iguanas that feed and swim in the ocean. Because they don’t have gills that have to hold their breath when swimming underwater.

Lecture on Marine Iguanas

When we anchored at Elizabeth Bay we got on the dinghy’s to explore the mangroves and the small islands of the area.

Boarding a dinghy.

We saw many turtles swimming as we rode on the dinghy around the area.

A sea lion was laying on one of the mangrove branches!

Look closely to see the sea lion on the log!

A pelican relaxed in the mangroves.

A pelican in the mangroves

A lava heron was spotted on her nest protecting her eggs.

Lava heron nest

This evening we had our briefing for the next day and Fernando shared that by the time the week was over we would have crossed the equator four times, going from the Southern Hemisphere to the Northern Hemisphere!

For those of us interested we ended the day by watching part 1 and 2 of the Galápagos Affair. A true story that was a murder mystery that was never solved!

The Galápagos Islands Day 3

Friday, April 8, 2022

This morning we were up by 5:15 AM to get ready and have our luggage outside our hotel door by 6:00 AM. We checked out of our hotel and headed for the Quito airport by 6:30 AM.

Our flight to the Galápagos Islands made a stop in Guayaquil, Ecuador to let some passengers off and pick up passengers. We stayed in our seats.

When our plane landed at the airport on Baltra Island, we went through Immigration, picked up our luggage and then we were met by our naturalist Galápagos Group Leader, Fernando!

Fernando lead our group of 14 to the bus that took us to the pier where we boarded a dinghy that took us to our yacht for the week, the Tip Top V!

When we got off the dinghy, we were welcomed by our cruise director, Gabriella.

We visited our cabin and unpacked. On our way to our cabin we saw a squadron of golden rays!

Golden rays

After unpacking, we had lunch together. It was our first meal on the ship and if it was any indication of what the rest of our meals would taste like, we would be eating very well! We can tell you our meals were delicious and varied! After lunch we had our safety drill and orientation.

Lunchtime!

Our yacht navigated to Mosquera Islet. It was located between Baltra and North Seymour. We boarded a dinghy and had a wet landing on the beach. A wet landing meant that you would be getting your feet and possibly your legs up to your knees wet. You could wear your aqua socks or go barefoot. Mosquera was a relatively flat, white, sandy island with many sea lions and sally lightfoot crabs. We also saw some frigates flying around.

Bryde’s whale skeleton

Our first sunset at sea!

First Sunset

Every evening we had a briefing with our guide, Fernando, where he would explain our schedule for the next day.

This evening we had a welcome cocktail with the ship’s crew.

Introduction to our ship’s crew.

The evening concluded with a movie called “The Rock: Galápagos in WWII”. It was an interesting documentary about the United States base built on Baltra Island.

The Rock: Galápagos in WWII