Thursday, July 2, 2009


Slepak claims the Galapagos is one of his trips of a lifetime. After a week on a boat, I'd have to agree!  There is amazing wildlife and all the various islands are unique and interesting.  The only downside is it's not cheap.  I heard rumors of people getting 70% discounts going on standby though.  Sadly with funemployment having a fixed end date, I didn't have the schedule flexibility to try for a discount.  Instead I booked on the Samba - a lovely motor sailor which started life in Holland and now has an amazing Ecuadorian crew.  The highlight was definitely the chef, who ginned up some fabulous meals in a tiny kitchen:


When most people think of the Galapagos, they think of tortoises.  One of our first stops was the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island where two of the most famous of these guys live.  The first is Super Diego.  He was taken from the islands years ago and lived in the San Diego Zoo for decades.  About twenty years ago, the researchers started a breeding program and he came home to lend some genetic diversity to the cause.  To date he has some 1,000+ offspring!


Lonesome George is the polar opposite of Super Diego.  Like Darwin's finches, each island has its own unique (sub) species, and George is the last of his line.  He's spent the last twenty years in big pen with two lovely young ladies originally from the island next to his (and thus genetically close) where the biologists hope he'll mate and keep the species alive.  Most days though he can't remember what to do with his girlfriends and instead just yells at the keepers when they don't arrange his lunch properly:


Other things to do on Santa Cruz include trying to stuff yourself into a tortoise shell (slightly sacrilegious, don't tell anyone)


And chasing after some of those finches.  It's impressive Darwin was able to tell them apart - sometimes it's just a slightly thicker beak that differentiates them.  The Golden Warblers aren't one of the fabled finches, but I think they're prettier:


Other exciting birds we saw up close included Galapagos Hawks:


Albatrosses doing some mating rituals:




And of course, blue footed boobies!


Each of the islands is different and unique.  Some have white sandy beaches:


With sea lions enjoying the sun:


Compacted ash makes for islands with wind eroded cliffs:


Others islands have rocky cliffs:


With blowholes:


And there are new islands covered in lava:


And interesting cacti:


Lots of different cacti - not something I really expected on tropical islands:


My favorite type of animals were the iguanas.  "Marine" iguanas seem to spend a lot of time on land, mostly just lounging around:


Land iguanas are a bit more photogenic:


The little lizards are also cool.  This one's on a bit of coral that was uplifted from the sea bed:


Other random animal sightings included three lightfoot crabs fighting over a fish:


And a pod of orcas:


I wrapped up the trip with some scenic vistas:


And a gorgeous sunset!


1 comment:

Mathilde said...

Whaouh! Just whaouh!