Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Galapagos Islands and Peru

I expect to take a few days to complete this, but I'll post what I get done each day, Just returned from a wonderful trip.  Traveling to and from was not too adventurous... long delay on the way there and an aborted landing on the way home.  The air travel days all seem long and these were no exceptions.  But in between was great. On Sat. morning we landed on San Cristobal Island and were taken to the Endeavor by Zodiac.  Unlike a certain Italian cruise ship, we almost immediately had a safety briefing and found our muster stations.  This was followed by a nice brunch, and introduction to the Galapagos and then our first trip to the beach. This beach trip was an introduction to how safe the animals felt.  We had to be careful not to step on them.  And the best was yet to come. A few shots from the beach at San Cristobal:
On the Zodiac ride to the island

Sally Lightfoot Crab

Galapagos Sea Lion

Find the lava lizard?

Marine Iguana
 Sunday morning I went with the photo group to a beach on Espanola Island at Gardner Bay.  We left at 6 am so as to have the best light.  After returning for breakfast we had briefings on snorkeling and kayaking, gathered our snorkeling equipment and left for various adventures.  I chose the shallow water snorkeling and didn't do too well,  I think I had a flipper problem because I kept going in circles. Still enjoyed the time at the beach.  After lunch we had a presentation on photography, my camera was on the higher end of the low end of equipment.  Many of the people had lenses that cost thousands of dollars.  I believe I still got some good pictures. Then I went with the photo group for a wet landing at Punta Suarez for a "long hike". The hike was tough, on lava rock and a few people had to return because of dehydration. Once again here are a few pictures from Espanola:

Blue footed booby

Monday morning we are by Floreana.  A short, easy walk before breakfast.  After a short time we came to a beach on the other side of the island and spotted several sea turtles.  Difficult to photograph, I'll show my best one after the discussion.  Breakfast was followed by a zodiac ride and my first outing on the glass bottomed boat. Saw lots of fish, some brightly colored, a black tip shark and a white tipped reef shark, and a soft sea star. I also wrote a post card to Rowan to be mailed from Post Office Bay. This is a barrel where the whalers would drop off letters for their families and other sailors that were about to return home would check for letters close to their destinations. They would then hand deliver the letters.  The tradition continues today with the tourists.  One of the ladies who went on to Peru heard from her husband that her post card had already postage. She lives in New Jersey and there must have been someone on a ship the next day or so that picked up her card.
When we went to leave the island their was a large sea lion blocking our pathway to the zodiacs.  He wasn't about to move for us.  Finally, the naturalist told me to quickly walk past him and the others followed. Another zodiac ride before we headed to the ship.  After supper we had an astronomy lesson on the top deck.  Because we were so close to the equator we did see some of the stars we do here, but their positioning was strange. My program on the iPad worked down here too! A few pictures.

Sea Turtle

Two Red-billed Tropicbirds

Looking for dinner
Tuesday morning and we're going to spend the next day and a half on Santa Cruz.  This is the second largest island and is home to over 17,000 residents (including most of our crew) which is, I believe, over half the population of the Galapagos. We do a dry landing and walk to the Charles Darwin Research Station and visit their "zoo".  I call it that because the animals are restricted, but they are making sure that most will be released back onto their proper island. Among other projects they are raising tortoises.  The most prominent resident is "lonesome George" who for a tortoise is just a juvenile. What makes George lonesome is he is the last of his kind.  No other tortoise from his island has survived so in a way, when we saw him we were seeing extinction in the process. George really isn't that lonesome as there are two females with him, but all attempts at mating have failed. The only picture from the CDRS that I'll include is one of George.

After visiting the CDRS I walked back into town with some friends. I'll add a couple of pictures taken in town. Then we caught a bus for a ride to a restaurant in the hills. It was here, after lunch that I discovered my biggest mistake of the trip. I went to take a picture of the grounds and my camera was dead. I had a fully charged battery and a second camera...back on board the ship. For some reason I still haven't figured out, I'd left my camera bag behind. No one had a spare battery that would fit my camera, but CT, one of the professional photographers, insisted that I use one of her cameras for the afternoon. Her camera could easily spoil me. On the way to the restuarant we stopped at a sugar cane press where we sampled several products they made. They also grew coffee beans. The sample of their rum was definitely warm all the way down.

Lonesome George

Sugar Cane Press

Crushing Coffee Beans


  1. Wow! I can't wait to hear everything about every day and see all of the pictures. Those you have shown above are all wonderful. I love the marine iguanas and sea lions, and the beautiful crabs!

  2. That is an awesome trip for sure! As a scuba diver Galapogos is on my wish list of places to visit and scuba dive before I die and seeing all of your wonderful photos just moved it up the list a few notches.
    Truly enjoyed your post and will be looking forward to more.