Up for an early breakfast and then met by our driver who would be taking us to the docks where we had arrived, yesterday. We boarded zodiacs or as they are called in the Galapagos, “pangas”, for a trip back across the Itabaca Channel. A note to anyone boarding a zodiac in their future: I grew up on the water and I’m very comfortable around and on boats...however, this was my first “rubber boat” experience. My first introduction to Tommy, our guide, for the next two days, was when I made the decision to not step on the edge of the zodiac (because it was bouncy rubber, I thought?) and stepped over it, one big step onto the boat floor. Since he was assisting me on board, I managed to stay upright but knocked Tommy, on his bottom...I think it took the next two days for him to forgive me for that and trust that I wouldn’t do it again...believe me, lesson learned should there be other zodiacs in my future! We boarded a beautiful 74’ yacht, the “Sea Lion”, with no more mishaps and cruised towards our first stop, Las Bachas---a beautiful coralline beach located on the north shore of Santa Cruz.
Once again, back on the panga for our first “wet” landing—jumping off the edge of the zodiac into hip deep water and wading on shore. We spent two hours walking the beach and exploring. We saw the famous Galapagos marine iguanas, bright orange Sally Lightfoot Crabs, hundreds of shore birds and the first sightings of the Magnificent frigatebirds, in flight...not on the ground, “yet”.
We are from an extremely warm climate with high humidity and hot sun most of the year. That being said, we didn’t think too much about the warnings regarding the extreme equatorial sun. We asked ourselves how much hotter could it be? Answer: it was literally capable of baking us. We were well protected with 50 SPF waterproof sun screen and wide brimmed hats, but by the next stop, we did what our guides and boat crew had done all day long—we put on our long sleeved “dri-fit” type hoodies and pulled the hoods up and put our hats on top of that! It sounds very uncomfortable because of the heat, however, it was quite comfortable and we actually felt much cooler—our packing recommendation/tip for anyone visiting the Galapagos.
Back onto the “Sea Lion” for our trip on to North Seymour Island. We enjoyed a delicious lunch on-board during the one hour trip there. This time, we had our first “dry” landing—I preferred the wet version but managed to maneuver on and off the zodiac without taking anyone down. We hadn’t been on shore five minutes when we had our first sighting of a Magnificent frigatebird on the ground—a large male in full mating behavior...his huge heart shaped membrane completely inflated. We were awe struck! We had hoped to see, if we were very lucky, one male on the ground—by the end of our day on North Seymour, we lost count of the living “red spots of color” dotting the ground and on low branches of the leafless trees.
As we were taking one of our, quite literally, hundreds of photographs of frigatebirds, we spotted what we had come to the Galapagos hoping most to see: our first blue-footed booby! Tommy told us to follow him along the path closer to the shore...then we saw them! An absolute riot of blue-footed boobies—on the ground, strolling along the path, on nests with eggs, calling from above. If our trip had ended here, we would have been very sad but very happy! They really do exist and their feet really are the most beautiful shade of blue we’d ever seen.
On the hike back to board the zodiac and the “Sea Lion” for the trip back to the Galapagos Safari Camp, we saw swallow tailed gulls, a land iguana and a baby sea lion. The beauty of the Galapagos isn’t green and “lush” in a traditional sense...but it is quite beautiful in a stark, other worldly way...like no place else we’d ever seen.
Back to our camp to visit with Katrien, relax on the verandah of the main building of the lodge—a wonderful way to sit quietly with memories of our day.
Our group of four good friends and travel mates, climbed to the “view point” for sundowners while we watched another beautiful sunset.