From January 26 to February 6, 2007, we joined our friends Diana and Larry Brewer for a cruise of the Galapagos Islands.
I tried to reduce our 347 pics on Snapfish to 30 or so, but without success. So, the people getting this are stuck with 74. It is easy to get photos in the Galapagos because the animals have few predators and are unconcerned with any humans walking around. The camera clicks and whines are lost among the whistles and calls of the birds.
Some of the photos are in the text below, and you can see the balance at this link.
First stop is Quito, the capital of Ecuador where the cathedral gargoyles are Galapagos animals. We stood in both hemispheres at the equator monument and had dinner in the opera house.
From Quito, we flew to Baltra, one of the few inhabited islands and which has an airstrip built by the US in WW2 for planes protecting the Panama Canal. From the dock in Baltra, we took our first Zodiac ride – a military rubber raft that would be our mode of travel from ship to shore throughout our water safari on the Celebrity Xpedition.
We island hopped with two stops a day at various points on several uninhabited islands (that is, uninhabited by humans). The main story is of course the animal population, but the geology of the different types of volcanic structures going back a few million years showed us a planet Earth like we had never seen. First day pics include a marine iguana which swims and eats algae and seaweed in the ocean and then sits out in the sun to bake the meal, a male great frigate that inflates his red pouch to attract potential mates, a blue-footed booby (easily our favorite), a land iguana which finds it food without having to swim in the ocean, another booby and a swallow-tailed gull.
In an extra 7 a.m. morning ride, we took in an impressive volcanic rock formation known as Kicker Rock. From a distance, this just looks like a rock island in the ocean, but up close we were able to view many birds, sea lions, barnacles, etc. in residence. That is Larry waving from the Zodiac.
Next, some animal shots: sea turtles mating in the ocean, a “watermelon” or “Christmas” iguana, booby/iguana/ship/Rita, a “masked” booby with newborn, a pair of blues, walking trail, booby activity (it was mating season, and watching them flirt and dance was quite a treat, especially as they kept lifting their blue feet in a sort of marching in place sequence – don’t miss the egg in the shot just before Rita and her two friends), an iguana in need of a pedicure, an American Oystercatcher and a sea lion in a very normal position. The sea lions were often at our “dry” landing points and were not inclined to move to let us exit the raft onto the rocks unless we gave them loud applause. We also had “wet” landings where we had to bail out in shallow water on the beach.
Next, Rita on the Zodiac as we leave the ship, flamingos, tracks on the beach (not from a tractor – a female sea turtle had come in the night before, dug a hole about 200 feet inland, laid eggs, covered them up and then returned to the ocean), the travelers on the beach in their “wet” landing shoes, a series of penguin shots, Larry swimming with hat and a blue heron. Do you think Larry is enjoying the experience?
The next stop was advertised as a big marine iguana day. Diana did not go – she thinks they are creepy, which they are. The first shot shows a couple leaving their nests where the eggs will be. Look closely at the next few shots and see the rocks come alive. Then, a Sally Lightfoot crab – they are everywhere and obviously easy to see. The next pic is the flightless cormorant – it once flew, but all the food it needed was right there in the water and available by swimming for it. Big web feet evolved for the swimming and the wings receded and no longer support flight.
Continuing on, there are some repeat animal shots, and you will see Tommy, one of our excellent Ecuadorian naturalists/guides, walking barefoot on the volcanic surface. You then get to the blue-footed Rita who had a pedicure the day before we left KC and had the foresight to ask for blue polish. She says it showed solidarity with her new best friends. This is followed by our special drinks in the ship bar – blue-footed and red-footed martinis. By the way, there is a red-footed booby, but not at this time of year where we were in the islands.
On the last day we visited the famous tortoises that grow to over 300 pounds and live over a 100 years. If you look closely in the shot after the tortoises you will see one of the many types of Darwin finches that made the islands so well-known after Charles Darwin wrote about his 1835 visit during his voyage on the Beagle. We saw lots of finches and other small birds, but the pics of those are hard to get.
The last night: sunset from our balcony, captain and staff giving a toast and the happy couples at dinner on deck under the stars with a full moon. The small ship experience was wonderful – about 80 passengers, most of whom had traveled many parts of the world.
When people ask us about our favorite travel spot in the world, we have always said we were not sure about second place, but we knew for sure that our three Africa photo safaris were together in first place. We have now found second place.
Enjoy the show – we certainly did.