Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Galapagos Islands

We were certainly enchanted by the Enchanted Isles, spending 7 days on a boat and finishing up with 2 days in the "big city" of Puerto Ayoro on Santa Cruz Island.

While on the Yate Angelito, we visited, at least briefly, the islands of Mosquera, Isabela, Fernandina, Floreana, and Santa Cruz. The weather was fine and hot, the scenery was brilliant, and the wildlife was truly amazing. Also, the crew took very good care of us. Although there was a pretty good swell at times, nobody was seasick but we did have trouble getting a good night's sleep with the boat rocking.

Although the pressures of the modern world are certainly nipping around the edges of the archipelago, the vast majority of the area appears to be relatively free of impact. The animals are still going about their business and evolving away, with their famous disregard for human presence. We were pleased to see plenty of birds and animals wherever we went, and happily watched the sea lions, sea turtles, and penguins as there always seemed to be a few near the boat.

The shore excursions were fun and we always managed to see some interesting things: a baby sea turtle running to the sea, only to be scooped up and taken away by a frigate bird; beaches crawling with sea lions; rocks crawling with marine iguanas; lava herons hunting for crabs at our feet; or the pleasant surprise of coming across a giant tortise along the trail.

We especially liked the snorkeling. Not much coral, but plenty of life, especially the many fish. Where else can you snorkel with sea lions, sea turtles, and penguins - at the same time? We saw many many sea turtles, as it was their nesting season. Often you could see several at a time, once I counted 10. We also encountered curious sea lions that came to investigate and made it look oh so easy underwater. Also a few sharks around but luckily for us, nothing to worry about.

We also had the good fortune to visit the tortise breeding centers on Isabela and Santa Cruz Islands, and saw everything from tiny 2 month old babies to massive old specimens, and of course "Lonesome George" the only remaining member of his species. (He's not really that lonesome, he lives with two females) It was a special treat to be able to old some of these amazing creatures.

And when our boat trip was finished we were pleasantly surprised to learn that the Galapagos wildlife is abundant along the waterfront of Puerto Ayoro, as we found when we checked into our hotel to find a few sea lions relaxing under the tables in the bar area, and marine iguanas patrolling the deck by the pool. We also saw herons and pelicans checking out the hot tub and pool, and a sea lion that thought the pool was just the spot for a swim. Just down the street we visited the local fish market where fisherman bring their catch to be prepared and sold while the pelicans, herons, gulls, and sea lions bustle about and fight for the scraps. Much more entertaining then television!

Next stop, Peru.

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