Our first full day in the Galapagos started out with our alarms not going off on time, or so we thought. It turns out that the Galapagos are in a different time zone than Guayaquil. Fly 600 miles west and you’re in a different time zone. Who’da thunk it? Actually Bethany’s phone was the correct time but Bryan’s never updated to the local time.
So we had an extra hour to have breakfast and prepare for the day’s expedition. This hotel also had a lavish breakfast spread, no surprise.
Our first order of business was a 45 minute bus ride to the north side of the island where we met our yacht. Today our group was eight people. Not the private tours we’ve previously been getting, but still a nice small group. A couple from the Netherlands, one from Italy and another from New York and Montreal.
We were on the yacht for just a few minutes before we transferred back to the Zodiac to go snorkelling for an hour or so. Instead of a mask, I wore some prescription swim goggles that Bethany’s cousin gave me when he was closing down his shop a few years ago. It was the first time I’ve ever been able to see properly while snorkelling, what a treat!
We saw a bunch of different kinds of fish darting in and out of the algae covered volcanic rocks that they were feeding on, as well as a few small white-tipped reef sharks.
After snorkelling, we got back on the yacht for a trip to South Plaza island for a walking tour of the island.
Before we reached the island, the first thing we saw were sea lions. They were playing, sunning, honking and nursing. They seem to really enjoy playing, you’d almost think they were dolphins. We saw sea lions of all sizes, from large territorial males to pups only a few days old.
Greeting us on arrival at the island were a swarm of Sally Lightfoot crabs. These crabs were named after a famous English dancer, known for her fast footwork.
We saw a good variety of sea birds: frigate birds, red-billed tropic birds, swallow-tailed gulls, pelicans, white boobies and more.
Both marine and land iguanas are present on the island in good number, although we didn’t see too many marine iguanas nor did we see them spitting salt out of their nostrils which they do to clear the salt they consume while driving to eat seaweed. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to see that before we leave. The male land iguanas on South Plaza have quite a beautiful yellow colour.
With the exception of the land iguanas, most of the animals we met get their food from the sea; the vegetation is quite sparse – any island in the Galapagos without a substantial volcano to catch some rain has desert vegetation, especially in the dry season. We’re nearing the end of the dry season now. But it wasn’t brown. There are three main species of vegetation: some sort of bush which had long lost all of its leaves and was dormant for the dry season was grey, the portulaca was a brilliant dry-season red and the prickly pears were green.
GIven that the portulaca and bushes are currently unpalatable, the iguana live on prickly pear. We have some pictures of one chomping on some needles. Yum!
After circumnavigating the island on foot, we returned to the yacht where they had prepared a nice tuna meal. You’d think we’d get some sort of picnic lunch while on an excursion like this, but of course we know better by now: a full meal it was.
After lunch, the boat we started on our two hour trip back to the hotel. And if you know Bethany, you’ll know that a two hour boat ride on a full stomach is not a pleasant experience. She got violently ill and is presently in our hotel room sleeping it off.
No boats tomorrow, though!