Galapagos Islands

We travelled to the Galapagos Islands with Lead Adventures, based in Quito, Ecuador. I really like the fact that they’re a local company, and so a lot of what you pay goes to the locals, and has an immediate impact. As soon as we arrived on Santa Cruz Island, we were taken to an area that borders the National Park, and where the giant tortoises are often found:

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FEMALE TORTOISE, ABOUT 120 YEARS OLD. SMOOTH SHELL INDICATES FULLY-GROWN

We also saw a male tortoise, who was about the same size as the female, but the marked ridges on his shell indicated he was not yet fully grown, at about 80 years old.

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MALE TORTOISE, ABOUT 80 YRS OLD, NOT FULLY GROWN

We enjoyed walking round this beautiful area, and also walked through an old lava tube.

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We did a great tour of Academy Bay, by boat, and then stopping off for a short hike:

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VOLCANIC MINERALS CHANGE THE WATER COLOUR
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BEAUTIFUL CRABS

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FEMALE BLUEFOOTED BOOBY
FEMALE BLUEFOOTED BOOBY
MALE FRIGATE BIRD
MALE FRIGATE BIRD

The Galapagos Islands are on the Equator, the sun beats directly down on all heads, the humidity at this time of year is high, and the heat got me. I spent a couple of days in bed, resting, drinking plenty of rehydrating salts in bottled water, and staying cool.

The next day, while I was still recovering, Chris did a couple of dives with Scuba Iguana, at Daphne Minor and Beagle Rock. As our underwater camera is not currently working, we were fortunate that the divemaster took some great pictures:

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STONEFISH
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JOYFUL SEALION!

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WHITE TIP REEF SHARK
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CHRIS DOES THE “HAMMERHEAD” SIGN!
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SURGEONFISH

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The divemaster also took some great video. Check out the sealion harassing the White Tip Reef Shark at about 2’25”, what fun!

Here’s some fun pics from around the town of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island:

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MR DARWIN TAKES TEA

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From Santa Cruz Island, we took the fast boat (2 hours) to San Cristobal. Our original plan as booked through Lead Adventures, had been to join one of the research stations on San Cristobal for the second week, and assist in removal of unwanted, invasive plant species, such as blackberries. However, with the experience I had of heat exhaustion, and still feeling rather tired, we decided to change our plans.

We spent a lovely week on San Cristobal relaxing and diving. Our dives around Leon Dormido (also known as Kicker Rock) were huge fun and exhilarating, but the water visibility was not that great, so the pictures didn’t come out well. After the dives, we landed on possibly the most beautiful beach in the world: Playa Cerro Brujo. No apologies for so many photos!!

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After a week on San Cristobal, we moved on to Isabela Island. There are some inter-island flights in the Galapagos, but we used boats. From San Cristobal, we had to take the 2 hour speed boat back to Santa Cruz, then wait 4 hours until the boat to Isabela.

Isabela is a quiet island, and is newer geologically than some of the other Galapagos Islands. This means that there are some stunning lava rock formations around.

These photos are from an area called Las Tintoreras (the white-tipped sharks). Sometimes sharks can be seen resting in the crevices. And there are penguins here on Isabela! Yes, Galapagos Penguins, at the equator! We snorkeled with them, what a thrill!

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GALAPAGOS PENGUINS

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Las Tintoreras

The next day we took a snorkel trip to an area called Los Tuneles. The lava rock tunnels and bridges are simply stunning!

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MALE BLUE-FOOTED BOOBY DOING HIS ONE-LEGGED MATING DANCE

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Los Tuneles

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ISABELA IS SEAHORSE-SHAPED!

The people in the Galapagos Islands are very friendly and seem happy to have visitors here. We found the islands very clean, very little litter in the streets. There are recycling bins everywhere. There is no fresh water on the islands, so washing and shower water is desalinated sea water, but is not recommended for drinking. Most hotels offer water coolers, so you can fill up your re-useable water bottles. It’s important to stay hydrated, wear hats, cover up. The heat is intense!

The Galapagos Islands are a special place, and I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit and see the range of creatures and landscapes here. I hope that Ecuador continues to take care of this treasure.

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