Category Archives: Galapagos

1500 Chickens on a Speed Boat

We enjoyed our 8 days of sailing around the Galapagos Islands so much that we decided to stick around for another week.  So we cancelled our flight back to Quito and decided to explore two more islands, Santa Cruz and San Cristobal.

Santa Cruz

We started our trip in Puerto Ayora in Santa Cruz.  This is a port town that offers a cool harbor, the Darwin Research Center, Lava Tunnels, and a pristine beach named Tortuga Bay.

Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz

We visited the Darwin Research Center, it contains lots of huge land tortoises, birds, and iguanas. I caught two huge land tortoises in a bit of a tussle, notice the stink face the one tortoise is giving the other:

2 Land Tortoises going at it

After lots of urging, I convinced Lynn to go with me to the Lava Tunnels. Lava tunnels are created during volcanic lava flow — the outside of the lava cools and hardens faster than he internal flow of lava, creating a tunnel as the inside lava continues to flow out of the hardened outer core. As we entered the tunnel, Lynn was all smiles:

Lava Tunnels

As we entered the tunnel, it seemed like they were really tall and we had plenty of room to walk through them.

Lava Tunnel

However, after walking through it for a few minutes, we found that we had to body crawl Marine style to get under some of the points of the tunnel. To make it worse, we wore flip-flops — not the best choice for rocky areas of the tunnel. So I am still trying to live this down since I convinced Lynn to do it!

On the last day of our visit to Santa Cruz, we trekked to Tortuga Bay. It is about a 45 minute walk to a really pristine beach. The beach reminded me a lot of the beaches in Panama City Beach, but it did have sea lions — something we obviously do not have in Panama City.

Tortuga Bay

1500 Chickens on a Speed Boat – Ride to San Cristobal

We wanted to spend a few days on San Cristobal island, so we purchased a ticket on a speed boat for a 2 hour ride from Santa Cruz to San Cristobal.    We loaded up the boat with over a dozen passengers and started to pull off.  Then to our surprise, another boat pulled up beside us and began unloading his cargo into our boat.  As they started loading these crates, we started hearing incredibly loud chirping sounds.   They had loaded 1,500 baby chickens into our boat and they took the 2 hour ride with us!

  1,500 baby chickens made a very loud noise. click here to see the video.

San Cristobal is a sleepy port town, we took this opportunity to unwind and just enjoy a few days without tons of activities going on.

San Cristobal

They have several beaches on San Cristobal, but they are totally overun by sea lions. You can even see them on the town benches. It is illegal to harm the sea lions, so they get their run of the town.

Sea lions are king of the town

San Cristobal has an Interpretive Center that I think is more impressive than the Darwin Research Center. It does a really good job of explaining how the Galapagos Islands were created and what groups of people have inhabited the islands through the years. On our hike to the Interpretive Center, we stopped by a small beach. We saw this sea lion resting on a set of kiyaks, thought it was very interesting.

Lazy Sea Lion

We really enjoyed this week in the Galapagos. We are now off to Quito where we plan to take a day trip to Otavalo, a place where indiginous people put on a weekly market to sell their wares. After that, we plan to spend some time in Banos, Ecuador. Banos is a relaxing place with beautiful waterfalls, ziplining, and incredible massage therapy houses.

Cruising the Galapagos Islands

Stunning.  Surreal.  Natural.  Beautiful.  It is hard to articulate the beauty of the Galapagos Islands, it is really a gem of a place like no other.  We took an 8 day cruise on a 16 passenger yacht around the northern Galapagos Islands.  This trip took us to 5 islands filled with all kinds of wildlife. We saw crabs, lobster, many birds (boobies, Darwin finches, frigate birds, and more), sea lions, sharks, dolphins, whales, huge land tortoises, sea turtles, marine iguanas and land iguanas.

For those of you cracking up – yep I said boobies.  Red footed, blue footed and nasca boobies, birds that take to the air. I am now officially a boobies man!

If you wish to see a photo slide show of our Galapagos trip, click here.

When we boarded the yacht, the first thing I noticed was a different type of bird flying overhead. It had a 6 foot wing span, crooked beak, and scissor tale — it was a frigate bird. I knew right then we were going to see many species of animals we had never seen before.

Frigate birds

We spent our first day at a nice beach surrounded with crabs and all kinds of birds and sea lions.  We snorkeled twice and took hikes.  We got to know the crew and other passengers on the boat.  Many were from Switzerland and we had one other American and a couple from Canada.  Great group of people — young travelers really enjoying themselves.  There was even a couple with a one year old girl — she was the sweetest little girl you could imagine.

Our first beach stop

Being on the yacht was really cool.  The cook was amazing, I don’t think we ever ate the same thing twice and the food was delicious.  Each day we had a full schedule, starting at 7 a.m. breakfast, followed by snorkling, hikes, and time to play cards and enjoy the other passengers.  We traveled to a new island each night so each morning when we woke up, we saw new and exciting surroundings — and the landscapes were awesome.

On day 2, we sailed to a crater style island and had some really great snorkeling. We saw lots of fish, sea lions, and a few sharks. We capped off the day with a beautiful sunset.

End of day 2

The next day of snorkeling brought us face to face with sea turtles and marine iguanas. I never knew iguanas could swim. Only on Galapagos — they use their tail to navigate the sea. They munch on the sea algae, just as the sea turtles do.

When snorkeling, I captured on video one of many sea turtles that we saw: click here to see the video.

Sea Turtle

Marine Iguana

We also saw the famous land tortoises. They are huge. Really big.  We even happened upon a sea turtle getting ready to lay eggs.  This is unusual for this time of year, the guide said he had never seen them do it before.  So it was pretty special.  It takes about 5 hours for them to dig a hole with their hind legs, lay the eggs, then cover them up with soil.  Very cool.

Land Tortoise

Land Tortoise laying eggs

During our trip, we saw beautiful landscapes everyday. We took over 1,000 pictures, these are just a few that don’t even do it justice.

Galapagos Landscapes

Galapagos Landscapes

Galapagos Landscapes

Galapagos Landscapes

Galapagos Landscapes

Galapagos Landscapes

Galapagos Landscapes

We saw lots of sea lions while in the Galapagos. They are very curious animals, they want to come up to you and play.

Check out this video of a cute sea lion we saw: click here to see the video.

Sea lions

Sea lions

Sea lions

Sea lions

On the last day of our trip, we came upon 2 alpha male sea lions fighting.  This is not seen very often.  I took a video of it: click here to view the video.

We loved the Galapagos so much, we have decided to stay another week and go to a couple of more islands. If you wish to see a photo slide show of our Galapagos trip, click here