- Galapagos Islands
In August we were able to travel to
the Galapagos Islands for a once in a lifetime adventure. We
traveled with Natural
Habitat Adventures on their Eastern
itinerary on board the Nemo III catamaran
luxury sailboat. Each day we traveled to a differnt Galapagos
island where we hiked, snorkled and kayaked amongst the incredible
wildlife where we learned about the ecosystem and animals from
our incredible guides. Along the way we made new friends and
enjoyed the spending time with them, the guides and the crew
of the Nemo III.
See below for the Best of the Galapagos pictures,
a condensed presentation with select images from each day.
For even more pictures from each day
follow the these links:
Best of Galapagos Islands
Select Highlights from each
day of our Galapagos trip
Day 1 - North Seymour Island
in Baltra by air from Quito in the morning and were able to board
the Nemo III just in time for a nice lunch. After lunch, we embarked
on a short sail to our first excursion - a nature hike on North
Seymout Island where "you can see more". This island
featured nesting grounds for the various Frigate Bird species
as well as our first of many sightings of Blue Footed Boobies
and Sea Lions.
- First look at the Nemo III, the 75
foot cataraman where we and the other 13 guests and 7 crew would
spend the next 8 days.
- The first of hundreds of Galapagos
Sea Lions we would encounter both above and below the water on
our trip. The Galapagos is home to about 10,000 Sea Lions.
- A male Magnificent Frigatebird and
a Blue-Footed Booby surveying the coast for prey.
- The famed Blue-Footed Booby - the Galapagos
is home to about 20,000 pairs of Blue-Footed Boobys of which
we saw quite a few!
- A Great Frigatebird - there are two
species of Frigatebirds in the Galapagos, the Great and the aforementioned
- The male Magnificent Frigate Bird is
able to expand its red chest to attract mates.
- A juvenile Magnificent Frigatebird
near its nest.
- A Galapagos Land Iquana.
Day 2 - San Cristobal Island
We sailed to San Cristobal Island overnight
and started the day with a nature hike where we saw more Frigate
Birds, our first close up encounters with Blue Footed Boobies,
Marine Iguanas and more Sea Lions. Later
that morning we would do our first snorkel outing braving the
chilly waters to see reef fish and to frolic with our first underwater
Sea Lions. In the afternoon, we
did a beach walk followed by our first kayaking excursion including
kayaking into a rock formation known as 'the cathederal'
- A Frigatebird chick in its nest.
- It was birthing season and we saw lots
of baby Seal Lion pups!
- A Marine Iquana sunning itself on lava
rock. The Marine Iquana is the only Iguana species in the world
that swims and dives for food underwater, a Galapagos adaptation.
- A large male Sea Lion barking and defending
- A small Ground Finch - one of "Darwin's
Finches" by which he considered the orgin of species.
- This guy was swimming back and forth
and barking seemingly trying to beckon his harem to join him.
- A Blue-Footed Booby admiring his blue
- The Yellow Warbler is a common Galapagos
- A soft fluffy Blue-Footed Booby chick.
- Our first of many snorkel outings,
despite the equatorial loaction the water was pretty cold thanks
to the Humboldt Current bringing nutrients from the Antartic.
- Young Sea Lions were very curious and
playful and always joined us during our snorkel outings. If you
dove beneath the surface and twisted and somersaulted you could
often get the Sea Lions to do the same. One of the coolest experiences
in the Galapagos.
- The Nemo III in front of the Sleeping
Lion rock formation.
- Kayaking inside "The Cathedral"
on the coast of San Cristobal.
- With our fellow Nemo III passengers
and Veronica (far left), one of our amazing Galapagos guides.
Day 3 - Espanola Island
After a rough overnight cruise where
it felt like we were sleeping on a roller coaster, we arrived
at the island of Espanola, the east most and oldest geologically
of the islands we would visit. Soon we would give the island
the nickname "Land of the Lost" as it felt as though
we had stepped back in time. We started with an early morning
kayak and then a snorkel where we saw our first sea turtles and
a beach walk all before lunch. In the afternoon we would do a
hike on the island where we would see thousands of iguanas, lots
of Sea Lion pups including one just born, Blue Footed and Masked
Boobies and our first and only up close sightings of the majestic
and quirky Albatrosses.
- Our first Galapago Sea Turtle spotted
on a morning snorkel outing.
- A small group of Marine Iquanas - there
would be thousands on Espanola in large groups piled a top each
- The Espanola Mockingbird.
- A Galapagos Lava Heron snatches a meal.
- Two American Oyster Catchers, another
shore bird species hunting for crabs.
- Three species in one picture!
- tThe Wave Albatross - these huge birds
cannot just take off, they have to run to gain speed like a plane
going down a runway and they wobble to and fro as they run, a
humorous and epic sight to behold.
- The Masked Booby.
- A Wave Albatross soars past a blow
- We spotted a whale off the coast of
Espanola - I call this one "tourists looking for a whale"
- This photo of an Albatross soaring
was taken from a high vantage point where the group sat in peaceful
silence as dozens of Blue Footed Boobys, Wave Albatross and Frigatebirds
gracefully circled just above us patrolling the shoreline sometimes
so close you could almost reach up and touch them. It was a memorable
- A recently born Sea Lion pup nursing.
- We passed this mother at the beginning
of the hike and on the way back some 45 minutes to an hour later
she had given birth - this pup was minutes old and the placenta
was still visible.
Day 4 - Floreana Island
Next up was the island of Floreana known
for its black sand beach, its flora variety and home to a lagoon
with flamingos. Floreana also had a small human settlement in
the 1800s and is famous for its dark stories of The Baroness
and the remenants of its Post Office. Aside
from a beach hike and a kayaking outing, we snorkled twice on
this day where the primary attraction was a large popultation
of Sea Turtles.
- A Medium Ground Finch.
- A Trio of Sanderlings foraging on the
- We missed most of the Flamingos, but
there were still a few loitering in the brackish waters of Floreana.
- A Lava Gull, usually present on the
lava rocks along the shorelines.
- Our other amazing guide, Andreas, coaxes
a Sea Lion into playing.
- Our guides Veronica and Andreas handing
out mail at the famous Floreana "Post Office" which
was a real Post Office in the early 1800s. Now visitors leave
behind postcards for loved ones or friends and future visitors
can take those postcards back to their home town to deliver them
Day 5 - Santa Cruz Island
Our next destination was Santa Cruz,
the main population center of the Galapagos and home to the famed
Giant Tortoises. We had a busy day
that started with a long board walk to the beach followed by
a kayak excursion in the lagoon. From there we traveled to a
working micro Coffee Plantation where we did some coffee bean
tasting before traveling to our home for the night, the Giant
Tortoise Camp. At the camp, we enjoyed a quick tour through a
volcanic lava tube and a wonderful dinner before heading to bed
in our tree house!
- Our Treehouse room for the night on
Santa Cruz at the Giant Tortoise Camp.
- A Galapagos Giant Tortoise- these tortoises
can weigh over 800 pounds and live to over 100 years old.
- There are two main subspecies of Giant
Tortoise - the domed type shown here and the saddleback tpe which
adapted to be able to raise its neck high to feed on branches.
- Dinner at the Giant Tortoise Camp.
Day 6 - More Santa Cruz Island
and Santa Fe Island
We awoke in our tree house and enjoyed
a nice breakfast before participating in a planting aiming to
restore natural fauna to the area. After that we traveled to
the Charles Darwin Research Center in Santa Cruz where scientists
amon other things are working on restoring the Giant Tortoise
population. After the Research Center
tour and some shopping and lunch in downtown Santa Cruz, we dparted
for the Santa Fe Island where we snorkled, followed by a hike
and capped off the afternoon with a short kayak.
- Planting an endemic speicies of tree
in order to return this area of the Santa Cruz Highlands to its
original native state.
- A Saddleback variety of Giant Tortoise
at the Darwin research center.
Day 7- Bartolome Island
We again sailed by night to arrive at
Baltra where we would do a long hike up a boardwalk to the summit
of the island. This view can be seen in the feature film "Master
and Commander" when the ship's doctor spots the enemy vessel
after collecting new and fascinating species. After
the hike we did two snorkel dives where we were able to swim
with Equatorial Penguins. We got an even better view of the Penguins
on an excursion along the shore line in the Panga and finally
took in the rocky beauty of the coast via kayak in the afternoon.
This would be the last night on the Nemo III and we honored the
crew and it being a clear night, we were finally able to see
the Southern Hemisphere constellations including the Southern
- A Great Blue Heron patrolling for fish
on the shoreline.
- An Equatorial Penquin - we would see
a whole lot more later this day.
- View from the top of Bartolome Island.
This Island was featured in the film Master and Commander.
- White Tip Reef Shark.
- The world's only Equatorial Penquin
- Young Sea Lions breaking up the Penquin
- Frigatebirds soaring around our catamaran
as they are want to do and probably so named because they circled
Frigates crossing and exploring the Atlantic. They can soar for
weeks on air currents.
- The last night with our intrepid crew