Day 2-Santa Cruz highlands
Day 2 in the morning we docked on Santa Cruz (dry landing), boarded a mini bus and drove to Rancho Manzanillo in the highlands to see the giant tortoises. We all had to put on wellies to do the walk, in parts it was very muddy. The tortoises roam free here and we spotted quite a few, most of which sucked their heads back into their shells upon being approached by a herd of humans. The Galapagos Tortoises can live to be over 100 years old and can weigh over 500 lbs. They move extremely slowly and were frequently walking along the same path as us, their defense mechanism is pulling their heads back into their shells with a noise that sounds a bit like vacuum packing. At the end of the walk, we peeled off our muddy wellies, had a light refreshment and headed back to town to visit the Charles Darwin Center.
The ranch is named after the Manzanillo tree, our guide made a point of telling us not to touch it as it would burn your skin so we were all very careful not to touch vegetation while out on our hikes and certainly not the manzanillo trees.
Day 1-North Seymour Island
On our 1st day, Sunday, we flew from Quito to Baltra, transferred to our ship and set off for North Seymour Island for a hike. On our very 1st afternoon I ticked off a lot of my personal must see list, the wildlife here was so abundant that we were all pretty bowled over. It wasn't like this every day on the trip, in fact in terms of quantity and variety, I think North Seymour was the best place we visited.
Residents of this island include sea lions, blue footed boobies, Great Frigates, Magnificent Frigates, Galapagos iguanas, marine iguanas, lava lizards, brown pelicans, Sally Lightfooted Crabs. An added bonus was seeing both a blue footed booby chick hanging out all by himself and a frigate chick in his nest with mom sitting next to him. This island had a dry landing and the terrain was mostly a dirt path, we spent at least a couple of hours here before returning to the boat to sail to Santa Cruz.
After getting back on the catamaran and heading overnight to our next stop, we had the worst night of the journey for those prone to seasickness, anyone on board who knew they suffered from seasickness took their pills and they were all still miserable. I don't get seasick but even I felt a little queasy. Not a good night's sleep for anyone on the ship.
Day 2 Santa Cruz, Tortuga Bay
After a stop back at the Nemo II for lunch, we docked at Puerto Aroyo and walked to Tortuga Bay. From town the walk took about 50 minutes walking at a pretty good clip to get to the sheltered section of the beach, it's not marked well but once you find the stone path leading to the beach, you can't get lost. Don't think that you are almost there when you find the path, that took up most of the 50 minutes!
There are two beaches, at the 1st one we saw the surf was very rough, this part is used for surfing. We turned right and walked along the beach another 10 minutes or so to the sheltered section of the beach where we swam, we didn't try snorkeling here. Along the way we saw a lot of marine iguanas
Where we docked was the only town we saw with a post office, grocery store, souvenir shops. ATM and an internet café. We tried in vain to find a free wifi signal, we didn't really have a lot of time so we didn't want to pay for internet as all we were doing is trying to find a couple of addresses. This was the last place we were able to buy anything until we got back to Baltra on day 8.
Day 6 Rabida Island
In the morning on day 6 we had a wet landing on Rábida Island (Jervis), we started our visit with a walk on the red sand beach, along the way seeing sea lions, marine iguanas, blue footed boobies and sally lightfooted crabs. The island is a birdwatcher’s delight. Some of the rarest species are in abundance, such as nine varieties of finches, large-billed flycatchers, Galapagos hawks and brown pelicans.
Day 3-Isabela Island Moreno Point
On day 3 we were on Isabela Island for the whole day, Isabela is the largest island in the Galapagos and we would spend all of day 3 and part of day 4 on it. In the morning we stopped at Moreno Point, located near Elizabeth Bay on the west coast of the island, where we hiked in the morning over lava fields. We saw brilliant coral colored flamingos in the brackish lagoon on this part of the island. After hiking, we went snorkeling off this part of the island
This was a dry landing and because of the presence of lava, I would recommend wearing closed toe shoes. For the snorkeling, I wore a shortie wet suit, some of the other people didn't and said it got a little cold towards the end but was bearable. Obviously the time of year has an impact on this, between July and December I understand the water is much colder.
Day 4 Isabela Island Tagus cove
On day 4 we were still on Isabela's west coast in Tagus Cove, across from Fernandina Island. The morning hike was a fairly strenuous uphill climb for some beautiful views of the island. Just a lone Galapagos iguana that we saw here, sometimes there are flamingos in the lagoons but not on this particular day.
After the hike we took a panga ride along the coast here, seeing sea lions, flightless cormorants, marine iguanas, herons. The morning snorkel had a amazing number of hawksbill tortoises and perfectly clear water, not a good time for the underwater camera to run out of juice (no photos at all).
Day 8 Daphne Island
On day 8, we got up to watch the sunrise when we realized our ship, and every other ship terminating their cruise that day, was doing a driveby of Daphne Island. The Angelito was traveling a lot faster than us and passed around the island a few times, I met a couple of people on our flight out of Baltra that said they got all excited when they passed us because they smelled bacon, mistakenly thinking they were getting it instead of us! No one disembarked on the island, most tourists are restricted from visiting this island. We all then headed into the docking area and waited for our turn to be off loaded and shuttled back to the airport.
We saw the last of our sea lions on and under the docks, one even lying on a bench, barking at one man who didn't respect his space.
Day 5 Santiago Egas Port
On day 5 in the morning we stopped at Egas Port where we finally got to see the Galapagos fur seals although had I not marked the photo number on my camera, I'm sure I wouldn't have been able to tell the difference between the fur seal and the sea lions we saw on the same island, we saw them bathing in the sun near the tide pools. We also saw a Galapagos hawk who seemed unconcerned about the flood of humans, we were trailing behind several other groups this morning and spent a lot of time loitering around waiting for them to move on.
Day 5 Santiago Espumilla Beach
Our afternoon stop on day 5 was at Espumilla Beach where we saw lots of marine iguanas and Sally Lightfoot crabs. The crabs attract herons, here we saw the blue herons strolling along the beach looking for dinner
Day 7 Genovesa Island
On day 7, after my spectacular fall on the lava fields, I was rewarded with my own personal sea day but the rest of the group visited Genovesa Island, Prince Phillip's Steps in the morning with both a hike and a snorkel, my husband came back with photos of a few things I didn't get to see including red-footed boobies and one short-eared lava owls although seen at quite a distance. While I didn't get to see one close up, based on the photos, I think the red footed boobies need to get their own PR firm, I think they are equally as cool as the more well known blue footed ones.
In the afternoon they tried to get me to land but the landing was too rough and being a wet landing, I wasn't going to risk it. They visited Darwin Bay, there was a group of sea lions waiting for them on the beach but he said the walk wasn't very long and it was blazing hot. Here they saw Nazca boobies and more red-footed boobies. He said the snorkeling wasn't good at all although if hammerhead sharks were to be found, this would have been the most likely place on our cruise.
One of the crew members took me on a coastal ride in the panga, I did see lots of frigates, a pelican or two and some sleeping sea lions.
Day 6 Santiago Sullivan Bay
In the afternoon on day 6, we went back to Santiago to Sullivan Bay. Although the other boats in harbor with us headed to a wooden platform, we headed to a different landing spot on a section of the island entirely covered in lava. This is the island where I fell and cut my leg open, we saw no animal life or even vegetation, just lots and lots of lava. Obviously I would recommend wearing closed toe shoes on this section of Santiago and to be very, very careful, lava is not a surface you want to trip and fall on. Our snorkeling for the afternoon was cancelled although we insisted the guide take everyone else and just leave us, he stayed on the boat with us until the doctor had stitched me up
Day 4 Fernandina
Day 4 in the afternoon we headed to the island of Fernandina, this is where we did the best snorkeling of the trip. We were lucky enough to see several penguins darting in and out of a school of fish, presumably looking for some lunch. We also saw a lot of green turtles and snorkeled with some sea lions, one who swam right at my husband
Day 3 Isabela Island Urbina Bay
In the afternoon on day 3, we visited Urbina Bay, located at the base of Alcedo Volcano on the west coast, between Tagus Cove and Elizabeth Bay. During our hike we saw lots of iguanas and tortoises. The afternoon snorkeling, although listed as being quite good, was not good on the day we visited but it was a nice place to take a swim. We anchored in a cove on the 3rd night, giving much needed sleep to all of us
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, Isla San Cristóbal
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on Isla San Cristóbal has got a population of more than 5000 inhabitants and it is the second largest town on Galapagos Islands, only Puerto Ayora on Isla Santa Cruz is bigger.
2011: We came here on the third day of the cruise with M/S Cachalote. Before lunch, while our guide went to the airport to pick up two new passengers, we got some time to walk around in the town on our own. We got another opportunity to do that before dinner, when we came back from a visit to the breeding centre and El Junco Lagoon.
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno seems to be a pleasant town to spend some time in. Around Avenida Charles Darwin, the street facing the sea, and the malecon, looks clean and tidy and here you find several hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops and travel agencies. There is also an Internet place.
2013: This year I came back to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and San Cristobal and stayed for five nights.
There are plenty of things to do just around the town. There is a Galapagos National Park Interpretation Centre with exhibitions about the natural history and biodiversity of Galapagos Islands. There are some walking trails leading to small beaches and good snorkeling spots. One trail will take you up on Frigate Bird Hill (Cerro de las Tijeretas) were you can see frigate birds. Following some of the trails will also give you good opportunities to see sea lions and land iguanas. During my stay in 2013 I also rented a bike one day and another day I went on a snorkeling tour. Surfing and diving is said to be good near Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, but that is nothing I tried.Related to:
- National/State Park
Floreana - Isla Santa Maria
The 5th day of the cruise with Cachalote (2011) we visited Floreana, also called Isla Santa Maria. In the morning we visited Punta Cormorant, where you can see the Greater Flamingo, and snorkelled at Devil’s Crown. In the afternoon we visited the Post Office Bay, a place where British whalers in the end of the 18th century placed a post office barrel. We mailed our own post cards there, visited a lava tunnel and snorkelled and relaxed on the beach. It was another great day!
Floreana is one of four inhabited islands in the Galapagos , but it has the smallest settlement. In the village Puerto Velasco Ibarra there are only about 150 inhabitants, and there are two hotels. It is a place we didn’t visit on the cruise and I didn’t have time to go there after the cruise either.
Update 2013: I visited Galapagos Islands again and this time I visited Floreana on a daytrip from Puerto Ayora. During this daytrip we visited Asilo de la Paz in the highlands and Puerto Velasco Ibarra, and we also snorkeled at La Loberia.
Charles Darwin visited Floreana in 1835. At that time the island was a penal colony.
In the 1930s some German immigrants settled on Floreana. There was a Baroness and her three lovers, a Dr. Ritter and his mistress and the Wittmer family. There seemed to be disagreement between the new neighbours and no one really knows what happened, but several people ended up dead or missing. Only the Wittmer’s survived and their descendants now run the hotel and restaurant in Puerto Velasco Ibarra.
Because Floreana has a long history of human presence the damage to the ecosystem has also been significant. For example the Floreana Tortoise has become extinct (but scientists think there might be one on Isla Isabela) and the Floreana Mockingbird endangered, and there is a big presence of introduced animals and plants. However, efforts are made to reduce the presence of introduced species.Related to:
- National/State Park
- Historical Travel
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