Once arriving to San Cristobal and walking the beach (and taking way to many sea lion pictures) we went back to the boat for dinner and our briefing/meeting lead by Orlando. It was there we learned all our cabin assignments and did introductions of passengers and crew. There were 18 passengers, from Belgium to the UK to USA and to New Zealand. And 11 crew, although we never saw the electrician.
Then we began our journey to Genovesa (Orlando’s favorite island). We traveled most of the night and I don’t think we were too sick. It was fun to wake up and be in this large bay; on one side you could see the beach (not real big) and then all around us were the cliffs. That morning our routine was set for the rest of the trip; 7 AM wake up call by the captain, 7:30 breakfast, 8:15 departure (or as soon as everyone was ready). Travis, Salem and I actually got up a little earlier as to get to the Sun Deck to get Snorkeling gear. Breakfast was different each day, but they always had special K/Frosted Flakes Ecuadorian cereal, fresh fruit including white pineapple, and toast. Hot breakfast varied each day from french toast to banana pancakes. After that we made sure we had everything we would need, wet suit, snorkel gear, cameras, towel, etc and headed to get our life jacket before departing to the beach!
There we had our first wet landing, we hopped off the dingy boat into the water about knee deep and walked ashore. We were met by some very unafraid Swallow Tailed Gulls and their chicks. We literally had to walk around then.
The chick is the striped one without the red feet. These birds primarily nested in the cliffs of Genovesa, and other islands in the Galapagos. Other birds on the island include the Red Footed Booby, the Galapagos Mockingbird, the Frigate Bird, Lava Gulls, the Nazca Booby and when we hiked Prince Philip’s Steps we “saw” the Short Eared Owl. I say “saw” because he was very well disguised with the terrain and was very hard to see. I believe if I remember correctly we saw two. While hiking Genovesa at Darwin’s Bay we saw the Red Footed Booby, the smallest of the 3 boobies on the Galapagos Islands. We also got to see the white vs. the gray morph as well, which is rare on the islands.
On Genovesa the frigate birds only mate during a certain time of the year. So when we were there they had chicks but the males did not have their red pouch puffed up to attract a female. We also saw the baby boobies, red footed and Nazca. We also saw Lava Cactus and Mangroves, Orlando explained how the mangrove seeds were designed to float in the water, therefore making it across the ocean and to other islands. After walking on the beach we headed more inland and walking on cooled lava. It had fractured over the years in distinct patterns. The lava also had created tide pools where it had collapsed onto it’s self and water came in during high tide bringing fish and crabs.
After our walk on the beach and lava we went back to the beach and suited up for some snorkeling! This was my first time to snorkel and I was excited. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was eager to get in! (That is me to the below) Snorkeling was fun! I saw lots of fishes and it was pretty clear. I didn’t want to go to far out but apparently that is where all the “cool” stuff is. Travis took me around for a little while by the hand and showed me fishes and sea urchins. I eventually gave him the camera and let him have fun with taking photos under the water. The theme movie I kept thinking of while snorkeling was The Little Mermaid and Finding Nemo. In fact every time I saw a crab, I thought “Hey, Hey…”…hehehe! I have more photos of them from Santiago and will post them when we arrive at that island! After our snorkel we went back to the boat…(M/Y Eric) and arrived to Hugo (our bartender and host) on the deck with snacks and drinks! It was a pleasant surprise and very nice to get a snack or two in your tummy before cleaning up for lunch. Our schedule after this was lunch at 12 and a siesta until we disembarked the boat again usually around 3 or so (the captian woke you up 15 til).
After our lunch and siesta (we really need to implement these in the US) we disembarked again to Genovesa but this time to Prince Philip’s Steps on the opposite side of the bay onto the cliff and hiked up; this was a dry landing by the way…no water or getting wet on this excursion! Here we had to walk around the Nazca Boobies. They were on the trail with their young. I loved that they would stand there and pose for us and our pictures. They weren’t concerned with us harming them or their young. We saw a few iguanas on this island but not many and they weren’t very large. Once we reached the other side of the island we began to look for Short Eared Owl, which once we found them we had to see them through the binoculars. That was why we walked all that way to begin with, to see the owls. After seeing the owls we walked back to the dingy boats and left for the next island on our tour. Fernadina. But not long after we got back on the boat, people began to feel sick. I already had a motion sickness patch on but took a Dramamine before hitting the sack around 6:45. Apparently only 9-10 folks made it to dinner that night, most of our crew was asleep or sick. We had the longest boat ride that night we left around 4 pm and didn’t arrive until just before our 7 am wake up from the captain.