We can truly say this trip was a life-changing adventure and was made even more exciting by our expedition leader Bolivar (Bolli) Sanchez. Our adventure was aboard the M/V Evolution that accomodates only 32 guests.
“If I have seen further,’ Isaac Newton once wrote, with celebrated modesty, ‘it is by standing upon the shoulders of Giants.’ The dark volcanoes of the Galapagos are Darwin’s shoulders. These islands meant more to him than any other stop in his five-year voyage around the world.” -Jonathan Weiner, The Beak of the Finch
We began our adventure with a flight from Guayaquil to Baltra which was a USA military base during the second World War. Then we boarded our home for the next seven days, the M/V Evolution. We spent the afternoon getting settled.
The next day we did a wet landing at Bachas Beach (Santa Cruz). It was a coral sandy beach so water shoes were needed. Here we saw flamingos, Sally Lightfoot crabs, pelicans, boobies and frigate-birds. After two and one half hour s it was back to our ship for a naturalist briefing and welcome cocktails and dinner.
The ship sails overnight so the next morning we were in Espanola (Hood), the oldest and southernmost island in the archipelago which holds one of the most diverse seabird colonies. First stop Punta Suarez where after breakfast it was a 7:15 a.m. dry landing. Here we saw the waved albatross colony, nazca boobies, blue footed boobies, gulls, tropicbirds, marine iguanas and the blow hole. We then went back on board for snacks and refreshments, then we got our snorkeling gear for an hour. Then lunch and an International Expeditions power siestas. We were encouraged to take one every afternoon and believe me they were well needed. During our siesta the ship moved on to Gardner Bay Beach where it was time for more snorkeling from our panga (zodiac). We saw rays, played with the sea lions and saw small sharks. At 4:00 p.m. it was a wet landing on the white sandy beach (no shoes were required). We walked along the beach with sea lions. We could lie down and read, make sandcastles all while surrounded by them. Back on board for another naturalist briefing a delicious dinner and to bed.
A 7:00 a.m. wake up call found us now at San Cristobal where we took a panga ride to Cerro Brujo where we saw the remains of a tuff cone and many sea birds. We made a wet landing on a white coral beach where we went swimming and snorkeling with the sea lions and many different fishes. Back on board we went for a ride aboard the Evolution around Kicker Rock (Leon Dormido). This beautiful rock formation is home to frigate birds, boobies, sea lions and pelicans.
In the afternoon we arrived at Baquerizo Morenoa Port, this is the capital of the Galapagos Islands, a small colorful town of about 6000 people. We were able to walk around town, do a little shopping and stop for a beer before heading back on board.
Floreana (The mystery island) La Loberia (sea lions bay) 6:00 a.m. wake up call and breakfast then panga to Post Office Bay for a wet landing on a dark green beach. The post office barrel was placed here before 1793 by English whalers. It appears for the first time on a map by Santiago Colnett in 1793. We opened the box and our guides read the addresses of the mail inside.We were encouraged to drop postcards addressed to ourselves in the box and take home any that were addressed to our home towns and find the sender. Believe it or not, three weeks after we returned home we received a letter from someone living right here in Sarasota that had found one of our postcards. Back on board by 8:30 a.m. our ship continued on to Devil’s Crown for more snorkeling. The currents were strong and the water cold so some of us stayed on board. Our captain saw a school of dolphins so he took up anchor and we chased them as they played in our wake. That is one of the advantages of traveling aboard a small ship. One day we even jumped onto our pangas to chase whales at sunset. What a thrill.
- Mailing our postcard.
After siesta time we went to Santa Cruz (Indefatgable) to Puerto Ayora which is the economic capital of the Galapagos and home to the national park and the Darwin Center. Population of 16,000. at the Charles Darwin Station we did a dry landing and went to learn about the world-famous giant tortoises and their captive breeding program and visit “Lonesome George”. We then took a 30 minute bus ride to see the different zones of vegetation including the agricultural zone. We then walked 45 minutes to see the giant tortoises in their natural habitat. Then back to our ship.
Next morning we were anchored in an old volcanic tower (Genovesa). A pristine island that is home to more than a million seabirds and the only site where you will find the red-footed boobie. At 8:00 a.m. we made a dry landing where we hiked 1.5 miles and climbed steps till we found a beautiful plateau with Nazca and the red-footed boobies. We then went through the Palo Santa Forest where we spotted the elusive short eared owl. Very hard to find. Lunch and power siesta and then an afternoon of kayaking along Darwin’s Bay Cliffs to view frigatebirds, boobies and sea lions.
Fernandina (Narborough) is the youngest of the islands and has the highest and most recent volcanic activity in August 2007. This island has some of the largest marine iguanas in very dense concentrations. And do I mean dense.
Isabela (Albemarie) is the largest of the Galapagos Islands with five active volcanoes. Here we spent the afternoon snorkeling from our pangas with penguins and sea lions.
The next morning we were at Bartelome which is a small volcanic island located off the east coast of Santiago-a geologists paradise. Our morning hike took us uphill 371 steps, a mile in total. At the top we had a magnificent volcanic view of Pinnacle Rock. Then 371 steps back down where we then got to spend our last day swimming with the sea lions. Later that day after lunch and siesta we made a dry landing at North Seymour Island which holds the largest colonies of the magnificent frigatebird. This is the only place where you can always find the male frigates showing their red pouches to attract the females. That evening was our farewell dinner.
In the morning it was back in our pangas for a ride through Black Turtle Cove.It was a mangrove swamp where we saw sea turtles mating. After that we were transported back to Baltra Island where we made a dry landing to be transferred to the airport.
A short flight back to Guayaquil where we spent the night at the Hilton Colon and watched a fabulous tango show and said good bye to all our new made friends.
We made several new friends, including some with flippers.
If you’re interested in a memorable vacation, give us a call. We’ll give you helpful recommendations and we’re always happy to share our insider knowledge with you!
Jon and his new-found friend!