Category: Galapagos

Farewell Lonesome George

By , July 8, 2012 12:54 pm
Lonesome George

Lonesome George

Lonesome George died on June 24th, 2012 due to natural causes. He was more than a mascot of the Galapagos. He was the last specie of the Pinta Island tortoise. While is exact age is unknown, he was believed to me more than 100 years old.

Before Lonesome George’s death, all attempts to mate him with closer female species of his kind failed.

We are very thankful to have been able to see him when we visited Santa Cruz Island a year and a half ago. Lonesome George remains a symbol of the urgent need to conserve nature.

The Unspoken Heroes Of The Galapagos

By , July 22, 2011 12:01 am
Animals of the Galapagos

Animals of the Galapagos

On our bucket list for places we want to see before we die, the Galapagos was very high.  We were concerned that it was going to put a big dent on our budget, but we managed to get to the Galapagos and not spend too much.

Yes, everyone wants to go to the Galapagos.  And yes, everyone that does go says they love it.  I want to have another response, yet I can’t. Maybe I don’t want to go on another cruise in the Galapagos, but I do miss those special animals.  So my video of the week goes out to those animals of the Galapagos, the unspoken heroes, and the great folks we met out there.

Enjoy and have a very very nice weekend.
 

 

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 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

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

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