May 1 – 12: What a trip of a lifetime! We were fortunate to take a six day cruise on Metropolitan Touring’s Santa Cruz boat (90 passenger) and then spend another six days in a vacation house rental (only reachable by water taxi) on the island of Santa Cruz.
Galapagos is unlike anywhere else we’ve ever been, primarily because the amazing wildlife is fearless of humans and we could get so close. There are few natural predators. The landscape is unique – braided and folded solidified lava, imposing towers of rock, and beautiful beaches. Everywhere we went we marveled at Galapagos’ distinct beauty, its geology, its history, and its impact on how we understand the natural world.
- We had never been on cruise and this one was fabulous. We chose a 90 passenger boat to prevent sea sickness, but it had other benefits – the food was fantastic as was the service. We will remember watching sunsets while sitting in the hot tub on the upper deck.
- Our time in the water – the snorkeling was a big highlight for Rachel, Lisa, and Wayne. If Alex was just a couple of years older he would have loved it too. We snorkeled (it was Rachel’s first time) mask-to-whiskers with playful sea lion pups and could touch large sea turtles. Galapagos penguins darted around us – these are the northernmost penguins in the world. We also got amazingly close to sharks. And then there were the beautiful fish and the octopus!
- Unique wildlife – slate black marine iguanas covered rocky surfaces, facing the sun to warm up after feeding in the cool ocean and “spitting” salt from their nostrils. Huge land tortoises eating guavas or slowly lumbering from one place to another. Flightless cormorants – a lesson in evolution first hand – they don’t need wings anymore since they fish for their food. We witnessed the mating dance of the blue footed boobies – they show off their blue feet, they give each other presents of sticks and then the male takes off in flight, landing graciously to impress the female. And then as our guide said, “The fun begins.” We saw the puffed bright red throats of the male frigates…also meant to attract females. Darwin’s famous finches would fly in and sit within inches of us on the beach.
- Galapagos is a volcanic hot-spot. We visited five islands: North Seymore, Fernandina, the west coast of Isabella, Santa Cruz and Floreana. Mind boggling to realize that the islands move a few centimeters east each year and, while it will take millions of years, each island will eventually disappear to be replaced by a new volcanic island.
- We got a taste of the local culture and island living during our stay in Santa Cruz. We went to beautiful beaches (Tortuga Bay), a volcanic swimming hole (Las Grietas), bicycled, spent time at the fishing pier, enjoyed a couple of days at the beach and just hung out. We loved the white fish in coconut sauce that we ate almost every night – couldn’t get enough of that.
Here are some photos to tell more of the story!