Posts tagged: Isabela Island

Galapagos Cruise: Day 3-4-5: Santiago, Isabela, and More

By , December 6, 2010 5:00 am
Penguins!

Penguins!

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.

Lava And Sea On Santiago Island

Lava And Sea On Santiago Island

Landscape On Santiago

Landscape On Santiago

I'm Stuck And I Can't Get Out

I'm Stuck And I Can't Get Out

Lava Noodles

Lava Noodles

Darwin Toilet

Darwin Toilet

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.

Hieroglyphic Hawkfish

Hieroglyphic Hawkfish

Penguin In The Water!

Penguin In The Water!

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.

Me & Frenchie At Sunset

Me & Frenchie At Sunset

The Moon From Bartolome Island

The Moon From Bartolome Island

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)]

Landscape On Chinese Hat

Landscape On Chinese Hat

Baby Fur Seal

Baby Fur Seal

Mama and Baby

Mama and Baby

We Cant Get Can't Enough

We Cant Get Can't Enough

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!

Me & Frenchie Snorkeling

Me & Frenchie Snorkeling

Shark!

Shark!

Group Of Yellowtail Surgeonfish

Group Of Yellowtail Surgeonfish

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.

Looking For Land Iguanas

Looking For Land Iguanas

Land Iguana

Land Iguana

Reflections

Reflections

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.

Tortoise Swimming With Us

Tortoise Swimming With Us

Sting Ray

Sting Ray

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.

Baby Turtle And Egg

Baby Turtle And Egg

Galapagos Hawk

Galapagos Hawk

White Tip Reef Shark

White Tip Reef Shark

Galapagos Heron

Galapagos Heron

We LOVE The Galapagos

We LOVE The Galapagos

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 …

MuiMui Getting Kissed By A Marine Iguana

MuiMui Getting Kissed By A Marine Iguana

Aww, Another Baby Fur Seal

Aww, Another Baby Fur Seal

Penguin Sunbathing

Penguin Sunbathing

Fat Crab

Fat Crab

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

Ecuador: First Days In Galapagos On Isabela Island

By , November 11, 2010 5:00 am
Iguanas Everywhere

Iguanas Everywhere

When we were initially planning for our world tour, we both wanted to see the Galapagos badly, but when considering how much it costs, it was always a warm subject between us.  So when my birthday came around, my knight in shining armor told me we were going to the Galapagos but I didn’t believe it until we took flight.

On Our Flight To The Galapagos

On Our Flight To The Galapagos

We heard taking a cruise was a must-do, but we also wanted to also experience Galapagos by land, so we planned for 4 days by ourselves followed by an 8 day cruise.  As we flew to the Galapagos, we got an extraordinary air view of the Cotopaxi Volcano.  We soon landed in Baltra in the open terminal and the weather was perfect, not too hot and not too cold.  After a short ride, first by bus and then by ferry to the main island, we then shared a taxi with another couple to Puerto Ayora.  A 30-minute ride later, we were all friends and stuck together for the next couple of days.

Amazing Air View

Amazing Air View

For our first meal, we decided to get off the gringo strip and followed the local traffic to Cevicheria El Pulpo.  As we looked around, everyone was having soup so we opted for the same. I am not a big seafood person but this sopa marinera (mixed seafood soup) was excellent.  We sat for over an hour talking to this local guy at our table and he ended up buying us beer.

Lunch And Drinks At Cevicheria El Pulpo

Lunch And Drinks At Cevicheria El Pulpo

Mixed Seafood Soup

Mixed Seafood Soup

For Isabela Island, we got a great deal on a package we just couldn’t refuse.  To get there, we took a water taxi for 3.5 hours and it end up being one of the worst boat rides ever.  The water was very choppy and our driver was completely insane, driving like he wanted to crash into each wave. There was a pregnant woman onboard and after an hour, she was hovering over the side of the boat.  We were all very happy to be finally off the boat and to be on land again.

When the shuttle dropped us off at our hotel, we were extremely confused.  It looked more luxurious than the pictures shown to us by the agency. The four of us just kept quiet and made our way to the welcoming snacks.  Afterwards, we toured a lagoon and saw pink flamingos chomping away at the shrimp in the water.

Pink Flamingo

Pink Flamingo

The next morning, we got up very early for a 6-hour hike to our first volcano.  The morning started off misty, which was very nice, compared to the beating sun we had for the rest of the day.  Our first stop was Sierra Negra Volcano (Black Mountain) whose last eruption was back in October 22, 2005.  The magma chamber is constantly filled with new magma so more eruptions are expected in the future.

Caldera Of Sierra Negra

Caldera Of Sierra Negra

After lunch, we were walking over a large lava field crunching our way for two hours. It felt as if we were walking on the moon, but with random large cactus plants in the background.  It was very interesting to see the variation of colors from the new and old lava. We took a break at a scenic viewpoint where we could see the other volcanoes on Isabela Island from afar: Ecuador, Wolf, Darwin, and Alcedo.  We could also make out the seahorse shape of the island.

Random Cactus Plants

Random Cactus Plants

HUGE Lava Tunnel

HUGE Lava Tunnel

Lava, Lava, Lava!

Lava, Lava, Lava!

After our wonderful hike, we took a small boat to the Islote Tintoreras (Tintorera Islands).  On the lava island, there is a natural canal where the white tip reef sharks, called tintoreras, rest on the bottom of the shallow waters.  While on land, any movement we made would result in hundreds of black marine iguanas scrambling around.  They were well camouflaged against the black rocks that I wonder if any tourist has stepped on one by accident.

White Tip Reef Sharks

White Tip Reef Sharks

Marine Iguanas

Marine Iguanas

Back on the boat, we saw sea lions sunbathing, a group of Galapagos penguins hanging out on the rocks, and then our first Blue-footed Booby!  We made our final stop of the day to snorkel.  I was hesitant at first because it was freezing cold. I put on my wet suit and plunged into the water.  Soon enough, I had one of the most amazing first experiences swimming with GIANT sea turtles.  There were three around us and they were just chilling in the water and would slowly swim up for air and come back down with no care that we were nearby.  Luckily I had on a life jacket because they would get very close to me and it was no joke how big they were.

Galapagos Penguin

Galapagos Penguin

Blue-Footed Booby

Blue-Footed Booby

Our trip on Isabela Island was truly amazing.  We saw so many animals that I wasn’t sure that we needed to go on a cruise anymore.

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Vermilion Flycatcher

Vermilion Flycatcher

What We Paid: USD eRate 0.7
Euro eRate
– Flight From Quito To Galapagos On Icaro Aero (Partners With LAN) 150 105
– Quito Airport Fee 10 7
– Entrance Fee To Galapagos 100 70
– Water Ferry From Baltra To Santa Cruz Island 0.80 0.55
– Taxi To Puerto Ayora 2.50 1.75
– Lunch (Sopa Marinera) At Puerto Ayora 4.50 3.15
– Tour Package For Isabela Island
Includes Water Taxi, Lodging, Meals, Daily Excursion
137.50 96.25
– Entrance Fee To Isabela Island 5 3.50

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

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