11/2003 - Ecuador: Galapagos

6-day trip to Ecuador visiting Quito, Mitad del Mundo, the Galapagos Islands, Island of Baltra, Santa Cruz Island, Las Bachas beach, Spanish Island, Punta Suarez, Gardner Bay, Island of Santa Fe, Plazas Islands, South Island Plaza, Pinta Island, Puerto Ayora, Darwin Centre, Charles Darwin Research Station, Lonesome George

We arrive to the Galapagos Islands landing at the airport located on the island of Baltra.
It seemed we had arrived in the Earthly Paradise, a zoo without safety nets for the animals.
The intruders are the men.
The authorities recall such a respect for the animals that these latters not even notice the presence of man; they are not scared and live naturally together with him.

Our boat, like all boats visiting the islands, had a route established by the authorities, both for the itinerary that must be followed and for the timing which must be respected.
Regarding our boat, we have not been really satisfied with the choice made because the boat was too small and with significant inadequacies. I would suggest to choose a different solution and take advantage of the best qualitative services that larger boats can offer even if the cost increases.
Apart from these considerations, we cannot complain about the excursion done.

The first amazing show has been offered to us by the frigatebirds.
These birds are almost entirely black with a great wingspan (male wingspan can reach also 230 cm.).
They twirl acrobatically and, occasionally, plunge headlong into the sea to catch the fish that they spotted.

The males have inflatable red-coloured throat pouches, which they inflate to attract females during the mating season.
We were attracted from an unusual foamy movement in the sea. It was a shoal of sardines. Even the birds were attracted by the unusual movement and had the occasion to enjoy a very rich meal.
We immediately started sailing to visit different islands

The first island which we visited is the Santa Cruz Island, where we arrived after a “wet landing” on the beach of Las Bachas. On the island we had to follow paths marked by stones. The impact has been gorgeous, we could see the Marine Iguanas, the blue Herons, pink Flamingos and a red Crab that moves so quickly that is called “runner crab “.
At 20.30 we started to navigate to reach the most southerly island of the Galapagos Islands, the Española Island.
The sea was rough, the boat was small and so …”we danced” all night.

At 8:00 we landed, this time it was a “dry landing”, and went for walk of nearly three hours at Punta Suarez.
We had a close contact with a Sea Lion, a blue-footed Booby, a Waved Albatross, a Brown Pelican and another type of Marine Iguana, very colourful.

After having lunch on board, we sailed for a short while with the boat until we reached another part of the Española Island, Bahìa Gardner.
In that place we did an unforgettable swim in the sea because we were surrounded by huge Sea Lions that began to swim around us, as if they wanted to play.
It has been an unforgettable experience!
We went to bed at 20.00 trying to sleep a few hours without the noise of the engines and the rocking of the waves.
In fact, the departure was scheduled for 24.00 and navigation was scheduled until 6.00.

It was 7.00 am when we landed on the Santa Fe Island.
We went for a walk of almost two hours; we were lucky and saw the kind of endemic land Iguana that lives only in this island. This kind of Iguana camouflages among the vegetation and it is difficult to succeed to see it.
The boat started its navigation towards the South Plaza Island where we arrived around 12:00.

We landed in South Plaza Island in order to see the giant cactus and the red green Iguanas. We could also admire the Swallow-tailed Gull, the great Sea Lion and Penguin Spheniscidae.
Our tour around the various islands of the archipelago of Galapagos Islands finished.
We spent the whole afternoon to sail to the island of Santa Cruz where there is the harbour and the most important town center: Puerto Ayora.
The visit of the town was not interesting.

The next morning we woke up at 5:00 to go and visit the giant tortoises at the Darwin Centre.
Among them we saw the famous turtle named Lonesome George, the last known individual of the Pinta Island giant tortoises.
We also visited the Charles Darwin Research Station where giant tortoises are raised from birth until they are five-year-old, these are the years in which their chance of survival is very low; then the tortoises are brought back in the same place where they were born.
We left Galapagos with regret. We spent unforgettable days!
Undoubtedly, the Galapagos Islands are a real PARADISE ON EARTH!