What a fascinating trip we had to the Archipelago. Our ten day journey started from Sarasota, Florida to Quito, Equador. A day and a half in Quito was packed with visits to world famous churches including the Basilica, overlooking the Plaza. Designed like San Francisco, the city boasts of charming roller coaster like streets. Peeking through a narrow lane, I reveled at Virgin Mary’s massive statue planted on the mountain top.
The following day, we traveled on a charter flight to Baltra. At Baltra, tenders transported us to the 100 person, Celebrity’s mega yacht called Flora. She would comfort us for seven nights. Each day, packed with morning and evening excursions around the inner loop of the Galapagos Islands, we managed a busy schedule.
Day 1: Santiago and Rabida Islands – Here we identified flamingoes, blue eyed Galapagos doves, yellow warblers, mockingbirds, monarch butterflies, Sally lightfoot crabs, sea lions, land iguanas and marine iguanas. Later in the afternoon, we snorkeled. I saw a school of gray fish when my scary self snorkeled by the sea shore. While swimming, I felt I stepped on orange colored vegetation. Because I wanted to be respectful to the waters, I untangled myself with care, and came back to the beach to sit back and admire the expansive beauty of the island.
Day 2:Isabela Island – Riding in our tender, we meandered the Elizabeth Bay and admired the mangrove web. Some Blue footed boobies perched themselves on a rock in the middle of the bay. Swimming like ducks, penguins momentarily popped their heads to the surface. An entire shark nursery occupied the far end of the bay as training grounds, before they would feel prepared to plunge into the big sea. Occasionally, we spotted a green sea turtle swimming by.
Day 3: Santiago, Sullivan Bay and Bartolome’ Islands – Undertaking a long walk “To the Top”, I noticed the unique landscape of this island. Our naturalist explained how rats had invaded the place and threatened many species of cacti and land creatures. The topography of this expansive land mass makes it an interesting site for clicking pictures.
Day 4: Santa Cruz and North Seymour Islands – In these islands, we had the amazing chance of walking through the nesting grounds of blue footed boobies and red throated frigates. Mating season in full force, grunting sounds, mating calls reigned the air above us. Magnificent frigates flew above our heads, attracting females towards them. The bigger their balloon, the more fit they would be considered by their female counterpart to carry the healthy gene forward. We saw Darwin’s theory of natural selection playing out in front of our eyes. Birds guarded their nests with specific intention, and I photographed a booby covering her two eggs with her webbed feet.
Day 5: San Cristobal Island – Our ship circumnavigated Kicker Rock, the iconic rock that emerged from under the sea, to stand tall, for all to swoon. In the afternoon, we did a long hike up the craggy mountains and took notice of red footed boobies sitting in their nests, keeping a watchful eye over their young.
Day 6: Santa Cruz Island – In the morning, we contributed towards reforestation by planting two small trees, each. In the afternoon, we walked through the Manzanillo Ranch. Enamored by the size of the giant tortoises, we watched one couple as they copulated. Later at the ranch, we enjoyed a delicious Ecuadorian lunch and watched wonderful cultural performances.