Posts tagged: Santa Cruz

Galapagos Cruise: Day 6-7-8: Fernandina, Rabida and The End

By , December 7, 2010 9:30 pm
Sleeping Female Sea Lions

Sleeping Female Sea Lions

Day 6 – Fernandina is the far west island, which few cruise ships venture off to. We knew right away that we would see unique things on this island when we were greeted by the skeletal remains of a large whale.

Skeleton Of A Whale

Skeleton Of A Whale

Then for the first time, we saw marine iguanas swimming. If you remember the movie Alien 4, it looked just like aliens swimming, just a little tinier.

Marine Iguana Swimming

Marine Iguana Swimming

While we were taking pictures of sea lions, we saw a flightless cormorant. It’s not especially beautiful but it gained our respect when we learned there are only 1,000 still alive in the world and that they are all living on this one island. We eventually spotted a few more and counted over 30, which is 3% of the world population.

Flightless Cormorants

Flightless Cormorants

Afterwards, we sailed to Tagus Cove in Isabela Island. The scenery was still rocky but there was an orange hint everywhere. Our snorkel session brought us to a spot where penguins and sea lions were swimming within one meter of us. The sea lion wanted to play and would even touch us sometimes but his size was too impressive for us so we backed far away.

Sea Lion Swimming With Us

Sea Lion Swimming With Us

Sea Turtle Chilling

Sea Turtle Chilling

In the late evening, we crossed the equator line for the 3d time! Then we had a moment of whale watching as everyone onboard the ship came on deck to see the Bryde’s Whales.

Whale Watching

Whale Watching

Bryde's Whale!

Bryde's Whale!

Sunset Before Crossing The Equator

Sunset Before Crossing The Equator

Day 7 – On the 7th day, we landed on a black beach in the backside of Santiago Island. All around us were birds diving into the water looking for fishes. This was also another great spot for observing fur seals. They were very noisy and the younger ones kept fighting each other. After our 2-hour walk, some of us went snorkeling, but I went off to play soccer while MuiMui decided to tan on the beach.

Boris' Feet On The Black Sand Beach Of Santiago

Boris' Feet On The Black Sand Beach Of Santiago

Bird Going For A Dive

Bird Going For A Dive

Young Fur Seals Playing

Young Fur Seals Playing

For our afternoon excursion, we explored Rabida Island with its red beach and popularity among lazy sea lions. After a quick hike up, we found a great spot to take a group picture.

Sea Lions On Rabida Island

Sea Lions On Rabida Island

Group Shot

Group Shot

Both Pretty & Lazy

Both Pretty & Lazy

Day 8 – It was our last day and with a morning flight to catch, we woke up extra early to indulge the last of the Galapagos. We took the small boat out to black turtle cove. There were many mangrove trees so we had to maneuver our way in. Suddenly under us was a school of Eagle Spotted Rays passing through. It was a beautiful morning and the water was shallow enough to get a clear view of them. Minutes later, we realized there were also many white tip reef sharks resting in the water. As we continued further, there were two turtles mating in the water. It was a beautiful moment and I was already pleased with everything we saw, but this was definitely a great way to end the cruise.

Spotted Eagle Ray

Spotted Eagle Ray

Sea Turtles Mating

Sea Turtles Mating

*** There is a lot of hype about the Galapagos and after experiencing it ourselves, this is definitely a must do. It was one the most expensive highlights of our travel so far, but we had an amazing time so it was all worth it.

There are a few cost effective ways to reduce the price:
1. Go off peak season! The weather is still great although the water is cold, but there are usually wetsuits onboard to rent. Whatever the season, the animals are always there.
2. Don’t book overseas. Go to Quito and relax for a few days and book your cruise there.
3. If you have to book overseas or if you are in Quito, book direct and avoid the middleman. While it is hard to book directly with the owner, they usually have an agency in Quito.
4. The Galapagos is very popular especially during peak season but there are hundreds of cruise lines so if you can book last minute, you can save even more.
5. If a cruise is out of the question, fly to the Galapagos and enjoy Santa Cruz Island. There is so much to see there. You can even take a water taxi to a few other islands.

While the prices vary in the type of ship you select, no matter what the size is, bring seasickness pills!

Thanks Again Kelly, Sam, Jennifer, and Christian for your pictures!

Iguana Up Close

Iguana Up Close

Heron

Heron

Fernandina Volcanic Landscape

Fernandina Volcanic Landscape

Who's On My Head

Who's On My Head

Orange Sea Turtle

Orange Sea Turtle

Yellow Flycatcher

Yellow Flycatcher

Alpha Male Doesn't Want Us Near

Alpha Male Doesn't Want Us Near

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

Galapagos Cruise: Day 1&2 – Santa Cruz and Genovesa Island

By , December 1, 2010 3:06 am
Baby Frigatebird

Baby Frigatebird

Many of the islands in the Galapagos can only be explored by taking a cruise. We decided to go with Yate Floreana, an economic cruise line that goes to Genovesa Island in addition to the western and central islands. We met our group at the Baltra airport and from there, we boarded our home for the next 8 days. The boat was small and the cabins were tiny, but we knew that at the time of booking. There was a total of 16 passengers onboard and a large group of them were biology students. They were studying abroad and part of their curriculum is to go to the Galapagos; how cool is that.

MuiMui-Tortuga

MuiMui-Tortuga

Day 1 – The first day was essentially a half-day. After having lunch on the ship, we explored the Santa Cruz Highlands. Here we found large tortoises grazing on the grasslands. I was impressed how fast they could move. Next we found ourselves walking inside a lava tube that was large enough for us to traverse a good part of it. It started to get dark fast so we made a quick visit to the nearby Twin Craters and called it a day.

Tortoises In Santa Cruz Highlands

Tortoises In Santa Cruz Highlands

Inside A Lava Tube

Inside A Lava Tube

Day 2 – We took a seasickness patch for the first night and it helped with the overnight bumpy ride to Genovesa Island. In the morning after having breakfast, we did a wet landing onto the beach in Darwin Bay.  We were surrounded by bare trees and exotic birds. It was very important for us to stay on the walking path, as there were bird nests scattered all over the grounds, in the trees, and perched on the rocks. Boris and I chose this island specifically because we wanted to see lots of birds, but we couldn’t believe how many species there were in this one area and how close we were to them. My favorites birds on this island included the super fuzzy babies and the red-footed boobies.

Baby Nazca Booby

Baby Nazca Booby

Baby Booby Learning To Fly

Baby Booby Learning To Fly

Time For Feeding

Time For Feeding

Red-Footed Booby

Red-Footed Booby

Just when I put my camera down, one pelican was feeding another and it was such a bizarre scene. It looked as if the pelican was going to swallow the other.

Pelican Feeding Another

Pelican Feeding Another

Before we knew it, it was time to get off the island and go snorkeling. I was feeling a little sick so I opted out and of course I missed out on an incredible school of rays. Luckily Boris and the other shipmates captured the moment for me.

Thanks Kelly For The Photo Of Rays!

Thanks Kelly For The Photo Of Rays!

After lunch, we headed to El Barranco (a.k.a. Prince Phillip’s Steps), which is another part of Genovesa Island. Again, there were massive amounts of birds hanging out in their natural environment. The Nazca boobies (or Masked boobies) were making so much noise with the females quacking and the males whistling at each other. When the day couldn’t be any better, our guide was relentless about looking for a Galapagos owl. I badly wanted to see one and when our guide finally found one, my heart stopped beating. Staring right at us and well camouflaged against the brownish-orange volcanic rocks was a short-eared owl resting by its hole. Twenty pictures later, I still did not want to leave.

Short-Eared Owl

Short-Eared Owl

Nazca Booby

Nazca Booby

Tropic Bird

Tropic Bird

If you are a bird lover, Genovesa Island is worth the long boat ride and the money. With each snapshot we took, it was sad to realize we were never going to see these birds anywhere else.

More to come …

Me & Frenchie At El Barranco

Me & Frenchie At El Barranco

Group Shot

Group Shot

Lava Heron

Lava Heron

Swallow-tailed Gulls With An Egg

Swallow-tailed Gulls With An Egg

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

Galapagos: Santa Cruz By Land

By , November 12, 2010 5:00 am
A Finch At Puerto Ayora

A Finch At Puerto Ayora

We returned to Santa Cruz Island to spend two more days on land before our cruise.

Sea Lion Sleeping

Sea Lion Sleeping

During the lunch hour, we toured the Charles Darwin Research Station, which does a lot of work to help preserve the Galapagos ecosystems. There is a large breeding center where we saw the remaining species of tortoises in the Galapagos. I was at awe when we saw Lonesome George, the last known tortoise of his kind. They don’t know his exact age but he is between 60-90 years old, over 40 inches long, and about 194 pounds! We picked a great time to visit the center as we were by ourselves most of the time and there were no tour groups around. They do wonderful work at the center and it is great that the public can visit it for free. Just please don’t touch the animals!

Lonesome George

Lonesome George

Look At The Size Of This Monster

Look At The Size Of This Monster

Land Iguana

Land Iguana

Don't Let Age Fool You

Don't Let Age Fool You

On our second day, we walked to Tortuga Bay, which is well known for its pristine white sand beach. We stayed for over two hours and our visit left us speechless. It wasn’t only because of the gorgeous views but just being in a natural environment where Blue-footed Boobies and pelicans are flying over us, large marine iguanas are resting on the beach, and having the freedom to roam. If we had packed a lunch, I could have stayed an entire day at this spot.

Tortuga Bay

Tortuga Bay

Marine Iguanas Waking Up

Marine Iguanas Waking Up

Magnificent Frigatebird

Magnificent Frigatebird

Keep reading next week for details on our 8-day cruise!

Sleeping One-Eyed Blue-Footed Booby

Sleeping One-Eyed Blue-Footed Booby

Large Marine Iguana

Large Marine Iguana

Galapagos Pelican

Galapagos Pelican

Lava Lizard

Lava Lizard

A Lava Channel In The Bay

A Lava Channel In The Bay

HUGE Cactus

HUGE Cactus

Kids Happy To Be Out Of School

Kids Happy To Be Out Of School

What We Paid: USD Euros
– Private Double Room at Espana:
Fan, private bathroom, wifi, friendly staff
25 17.50
– Breakfast 4 2.50
– Lunch 5 3.50
– Dinner 9 6

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

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