Day 3 – In the morning of the 3rd day, we awoken to find ourselves at a new island called Santiago. It was a dramatic change of scenery as we went from having lots of wildlife and trees on Genovesa Island to nothing much besides lava on Santiago Island. The dried up lava flows captured some interesting shapes like the Darwin toilets.
For our daily snorkel excursion, we went to Bartalome Island. There were many colorful fishes in the water, but the highlight was when we saw our first Hieroglyphic hawkfish and penguin swimming in the water. We didn’t have wetsuits on this time around and while it was bearable for some time, we soon returned to land.
In the evening, we had a romantic group stroll to the top of Bartalome Island. We watched the sunset and soon after, it was just the moonlight and lights from cruise ships in the open water.
Day 4 – By the 4th day, waking up early was getting more difficult, but the motivation of seeing new kinds of animals helped get us out of our bed each time. Today was going to be extra special since we were going to visit the island of Sombrero Chino (Chinese Hat) where the local traffic is mostly fur seals. We found some sunbathing on the rocks and others sleeping inside the bushes. We were advised to give them space, as they can get dangerous. With their large eyes and adorable faces, it was difficult to believe they would attack.
[Difference between seals and sea lions: earless seals (true seals) and eared seals (sea lions)]
Our afternoon snorkeling excursion brought us to the shallow waters next to Santiago Island. It was a great spot to see the fishes up close. We spotted a huge blowfish and white tip reef sharks just a few feet away!
In the late afternoon, we relocated to Dragon Hill in the northwest of Santa Cruz Island. It was very hot, but it didn’t stop us from looking for land iguanas. Since it was mating season, most of the iguanas were inland. We only sighted one land iguana during our two hour hike. It was massive and when it heard us, it crawled as fast as it could into the shrubs.
Day 5 – While we already visited Isabela Island during our land tour prior going on our cruise, it still felt like our first time. The day started off with a morning snorkel where large tortoises guaranteed our full attention. It is just an amazing experience time and time again to swim alongside tortoises of this size, as they are so graceful and peaceful in the water. We also spotted a few large rays in this area.
In the afternoon, we went to the Turtle Breeding Center of Arnaldo Tupiza. There were many turtles of various sizes. We then cruised to Islote Tintoreras to see the white-tip reef sharks in their resting area. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by a Galapagos Hawk.
Our time in Isabela was short so I was happy we had done a trip by land beforehand. We just can’t get enough of these animals.
Special Thanks To Kelly, Sam, Jennifer, and Christian for your pictures!
Final days of our cruise to come …