We Go to the Galápagos

Wednesday, March 9

We were up at 7 am for our breakfast, the croissants and bananas we had bought yesterday. At 7:30 am the van arrived to take us to the airport, and our Galápagos adventure was under way. The flight from Quito to Baltra in the Galápagos took about two hours, during which they served us a meal which might have been lunch but which we decided was “second breakfast”. When we arrived at Baltra we went through an immigration process, paid our $100 park fee, then collected our luggage.

Baltra from above

There was a local representative there to meet us, and he directed us onto a bus. We all piled onto it and it took us to the dock, which took about five minutes. As we pulled into the parking area we saw our first marine iguanas and blue-footed boobies. On the dock a large sea lion was blocking the gangplank, so he had to be shooed off before we could board the panga. (“Panga” is a local word which means a kind of canoe, but in this case it referred to the ship’s Zodiacs.) Our ship was the Mary Anne, and her sister ship the Sagitta was also boarding at the same time. It seemed to have been booked by one extended family with numerous children, so we were all glad not to be on that boat.

Our ship, the Mary Anne

Our group consisted of one Dane, a Dutch couple, three people from England, two Poles from the US, and the rest Canadians, most of whom were from Toronto; in total 18 people. It was a nice mix, with Matthew being the youngest. Once on board we had a short briefing, then we were given our cabins. Despite having a “superior” cabin, our window was a porthole close to the ceiling. We did have a double bed plus a single bed, though. The cabin was well laid out, though, as you would expect on a sailing boat. After we were somewhat organized, we had the emergency evacuation drill, followed by lunch.

Our cabin

Once lunch was finished we had a bit of free time while we motored to North Seymour Island for our first outing. Once there we put our shoes back on, donned our life jackets, and boarded the pangas. This was a dry landing, which meant that the pangas went right up to the rocky shore so that we could just step off. The first wildlife to see were Sally Lightfoot crabs and a sea lion. The shore also had blue-footed boobies and pelicans, and flying overhead were numerous frigatebirds. Our trail meandered along and we photographed many birds and iguanas. This was a nesting colony, so we saw both Great and Magnificent frigatebirds displaying their red throat pouches. We were also lucky to see a Swallow-tailed Gull with a chick.

Swallow-tailed Gull

Swallow-tailed Gull with chick

Great Frigatebird

Frigatebird chick

Marine iguana

Land iguana

The temperature today must have been about 40° Celsius, especially since we were walking over black lava rocks. The humidity was also very high and there were a lot of insects. However despite this the walk was very interesting. Back at the ship we had a snack consisting of ham-and-cheese sandwiches, warm brownies, and lemonade. After the snack we went down to our cabin and had showers, then returned to the deck to enjoy the scenery. We were now motoring to Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island, where we would anchor tonight. There were a lot of small seabirds flying past, but it was difficult to identify them as they didn’t come very close to the ship.

Mother sea lion with pup

Sea lion pup nursing

American Oystercatcher

Lava lizard

Opuntia cactus

Dinner tonight was tuna with veggies, although since we had already had breakfast and second breakfast and lunch and a snack, we weren’t really hungry. Both of us were tired, so we headed to bed not long after 9 pm. It wasn’t too difficult to fall asleep despite the noise from the air conditioner and the boat’s generators.

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