The Galapagos have been rather unexpected, and predictably incredible simultaneously. The relentless preservation of the Islands is like a cult thats easy to buy into, and the constant proximity of animals/birds to humans is surreal.
Our first night was spent at a cutesy hotel on Santa Cruz Island, and we reconvened with our lovely jungle-German friends for dinner, games and cocktails. It was a painfully early start the next morning to get the ‘ferry’ to San Cristobal Island. Turns out the ‘ferry’ wasn’t one of those vast lumbering vessels that you booze cruise across the English Channel, but rather a vomit inducing, spine crushing speed boat which banged and lunged around for 3 hours until we all ended up in a heap with the other passengers at the back of the boat and disembarked feeling bruised and somewhat green (despite the liberal dosing of Dramamine). We stayed at a somewhat dingy, but very functional airBnB (with a great view of the bay), took a gentle hike that afternoon to the local Mirador, then stopped on our way home to snorkel at a recommended spot. Despite double wetsuitage, entering the freezing water elicited much shrieking, only surpassed in decibels when a playful sea lion skimmed past and then stuck around to duck and dive all around us. Emily managed to get a great photo (whilst screaming!), and this might take centre stage for her next blog post.
James and I got some (chilly but) great (lots of sharks) dives in while we were on San Cristobal, and Bella did a discovery dive (her 10th Birthday present). She was super cool and calm (as you would expect from Her Beaniness) and was rewarded with some amazing sightings – look out for video highlights coming soon! Emily and Bella also did some fairly full on snorkelling at the same dive sites while we were underwater (despite deep-seaness, and major swell), and handled themselves really well, even when the sharks appeared!
I won’t dwell on the ferry back to Santa Cruiz (more of the same!) but day 1 of activities was a real highlight. We took a private fishing tour. None of us are remotely into fishing, but it turns out that it can be really quite exciting when both lines kept ‘catching’ simultaneously, and we got to ‘fight’ the fish from belt harnesses. We landed one pretty quickly – a spectacular yellowfin tuna (which we enjoyed for the next few dinners!), but all the others got away (because they were sooooo big that they broke the lines/swallowed the lures – most likely sharks – obvs!). And then the next unexpected treat – the sun came out (we haven’t seen it since Quito!), so we swam to a pristine white beach, and lounged around with the sea lions and built sandcastles.
Bella’s birthday was a delight from start to finish. We kicked off at 5:30am with hot chocolate and presents in bed. Our biggest hit was a blue candy ‘thumb’which came with a dipping pot full of mega-tangy sherbert. Who knew such gastronomic delights existed and could be savoured at such an uncivilised hour? The Safari Camp where we are staying served cupcakes for breakfast, and decorated both the table and us with various lurid masks, sprinkles and streamers. We headed out for a tour of Plazas Island where we got very close to various nesting birds, handled some gruesome skeletons, and a observed a colony of bachelor sea lions (they go here to hangout when they’ve been ostracised, or when they are building strength to win the hearts of sea-lionesses!). The boat crew had been duly tipped off, and served cake number 2 at lunch. It’s an Ecuadorian tradition to make your birthday wish as you (literally) take a bite of cake, and Bella dived in without hesitation!
A real unexpected highlight after lunch was when our Captain spotted 2 humpback whales courting not far from us. They were both leaping out of the water about 50M from us, and even our guide could hardly contain her excitement. Not long after (as if the whales weren’t enough) we saw a ray jumping out of the water (apparently to get rid of parasites, so less romantic than the whale’s display!). We snorkelled after lunch in a quiet channel teeming with huge shoals of various fish, and ended up in a lagoon where lots of black tipped sharks were taking their afternoon snoozes under some rocks round the edge. During the snorkelling trip Emily lost a tooth! There was a dramatic amount of blood, so Em got out of the water to avoid attracting even more sharks. Sadly (despite a heroic effort from James to ‘catch’ it underwater) we lost the tooth, but luckily the Ecuadorian tooth rat (!!!) picked up the message from May (Emily’s personal ‘home’ tooth fairy) and visited overnight. Back to Bella’s birthday, the rest of our happy afternoon passed with a piñata bashing on the terrace of our lodge, tea ie cake number 3, a mega game of Ecuadorian Monopoly, and lots of cocktails and mocktails lit up with flashing ice cubes! Dinner brought with it cake number 4 which none of us was able to touch…. A memorable Beanie 10th for us all!
Our last few days brought more tours, more islands, more arctic snorkels, more incredible animals and birds, more well meaning American pensioners, more mosquito bites, some yoga on the sunset observation tower, and one gruesome stomach infection for Emily.
And before I sign out:
And I try to avoid double posting photos on the blog/Instagram BUT, these sea lion numbers were too good not to revisit