Saturday, May 31, 2008

Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands: Photo Essay

So, about our trip to Ecuador and the was amazing! Rather than write on and on and on about it, I'm going to do more of a photo essay about our trip. (This is the very, very short version, as I have heaps of photos). Enjoy!

Our trip began in Quito, Ecuador. Here we wandered around the Old Town, climbed (very rickety) ladders to the roof top of a Basilica, took in lovely views, and eventually made it to the "Middle of the World," at the Equator line.

The next day we flew to Baltra in the Galapagos Islands. From there we took a bus, then a ferry, then a pick-up truck then a panga (dinghy boat) to the boat that we would be living on while in the Galapagos. Below is the route we took in the islands. (I mapped it out as we went, in my Lonely Planet wildlife book).

Our first excursion on Santa Cruz island was to see some Giant Tortoises in the wild:

After our first night on the boat, we embarked on Santa Fe island, where we played and swam/snorkeled along side sea lions.

Then we were on to South Plaza Island and land iguanas and sea lions basking under prickly pear cactus trees.
The following morning we hiked Dragon Cerro on Santa Cruz island:

Next, we sailed to Bartolome Island, where we hiked to the summit, then snorkeled with penguins off of a beautiful golden sand beach. Also, later that night everyone met on the very top deck of our boat, and the captain sailed the boat really close to a crater. We could peer into the crater where we saw flamingos wading below (not pictured).

(I'm making this face, not because of the penguins over my shoulder,
but because of the sea lion splashing around next to me).
The next day we took a panga ride around Rabida Island where we saw a variety of birds as well as fur seals. Then we did a little hiking and a lot of snorkeling off the lovely red sand beach.

We spent that afternoon at Puerto Egas on Santiago Island. We hiked the lava-line shore alongside heaps of marine iguanas and fur seals, then snorkeled off the black sand beaches alongside sharks and penguins.

The next day began with a panga ride around Black Turtle Cove/Mangroves on Santa Cruz island. There we saw sharks, a variety of rays and sea turtles.

That afternoon we sailed to North Seymour Island. Here we were amazed at how close we were to such a variety of birds, like Blue Footed Boobies and Frigatebirds--performing courtship rituals.

Here we are the next morning on Espanola Island. We walked along the soft, white sand beach and later snorkeled in Gardner Bay.

Later we did some hiking and birdwatching at Punta Suarez on Espanola island (this was one of my favorite places!). We saw Blue Footed Boobies, Frigatebirds, Swallow-tailed Gulls, Waved Albatross and Nazca Boobies. We also saw heaps of Marine Iguanas.

Post Office Bay on the island of Floreana was our first stop the next morning. Here we left some postcards, and I also left some PinkBird propaganda (of course I left my PinkBird stickers on the boat!)
Later, we snorkeled Devil's Crown, a sunken crater. We swam with sharks and rays, it was wonderful!

In the afternoon we hiked at Punta Cormorant on Floreana Island:

The following day was our last in the Galapagos. We went to the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island where we saw baby giant tortoises and Lonesome George, the last known of his species.

Then, it was back to Quito for a night and then back to the US.

We had an extraordinary trip and I plan to post some of our videos and more of the details later.
(P.S. this post just might beat out the Morocco Trip Report for "Most Pictures!" Wow!)

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