Galapagos 2: San Cristóbal to Santa Cruz

Waking early for New Year’s Day, the team raced to the dock.  On their way they ran past a variety of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno citizens who were still revelling at 10am.

Sea lions sleeping off New Year’s excess

Once at the dock they waited for the Eden boat representatives and the rest of the passengers to arrive from the airport.  Simon went in search of an open shop for breakfast, a hard challenge for the first day of the New Year.  After much searching of the town, he found some breakfast yoghurt and raced back to the dock.  On his return he had to run as the rest of the passengers for the cruise had arrived and were in the dingy waiting, ready to be shuttled to the boat.

Ang and Simon joined teams from Holland, Canada and the US.  There was also another Australian team on their own exclusive race to complete the 11 initial passengers.  Introductions were made once onboard the Eden.

After the safety briefing was completed and cabins assigned, the Eden motored to the nearby Lobos Island and commenced an amazing eight day tour of the Galapagos.  Once the boat had arrived and the passengers were briefed, the team went ashore.  They walked amongst the large sea lion colony, spied blue footed boobies, land and marine iguanas.  Returning to the boat, the team donned snorkelling gear and entered the water.  The fantastic array and sheer volume of marine life astounded Simon and Ang as they snorkelled.  They saw huge green turtles, rays, lots of fish and sea lions.

Blue footed boobie Awwww
More awwww Baby chases mum, for more boobie
Marine iguana poses for the photo Boobie on a rock
Ang gives the Galapagos the thumbs up Marine iguana sunbaking
Check out these blue footed boobie booties

With the first snorkelling challenge completed, they returned to the Eden then back to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.  Simon and Ang joined the other passengers that night ashore for a drink, and then later returned to the Eden.  Whilst they slept the boat weighed anchor and motored overnight to Santa Fe Island.

The second day of the cruise began early.  Simon and Ang awoke to find the Eden anchored alone in the Santa Fe anchorage.  After a quick breakfast everyone went ashore for a short walk through the vegetation.  On this walk the team saw a different species of land iguana, giant Galapagos tree cacti, birds and of course more sea lions.  At one point, the team engaged in a rather serious discussion with other teams about the classification of one type of Darwin’s finches, the medium finch (when does it become a large finch?).  After completing this walk the team returned to the Eden, changed into snorkelling gear and entered the water.

Galapagos giant cacti tree Baby sea lions with their babysitter and number one predator

Once in the water, Simon and Ang were again amazed at the huge variety and carpets of fish, massive green turtles and the playful sea lions returning from their morning fishing.  With this task complete, the team returned to the Eden and were soon motoring to their next destination, South Plazas Island.

Arriving between the South and North Plazas, the team once again boarded the two zodiacs and went ashore to South Plaza.  This island is roughly rectangular in shape and rises on the southern side to an impressive cliff.  The walking tour of this island commenced amongst sea lions and marine and land iguanas (again from different sub-species) and then climbed to the southern side of the island.  The walk up to the top of the cliff was through a forest of giant cactuses and a carpet of red plants that Ang commented “It looks just like coral”.

Sea lions have the longest whiskers of all lions
South Plaza landscape panorama
A panorama of the waters between North and South Plazas

Arriving at the top of the cliff, the team took in a David Attenborough-esk sight of thousands of birds, frigate birds and tropic birds wheeling and flying around in the high winds.  After taking in the scene with awe, the team followed their guide, Rubén, along the top of the cliff face, past the bachelor male sea lions and back down to the shore on the northern side of the island.  Walking along the highly polished stones from thousands of years of sea lion use, the team returned to the rocky pier and on to the Eden.  The Eden then cruised to Puerto Ayora where they stayed overnight.

Racers pause for a photo Land iguana waiting for a cacti flower fall to eat
Cacti flower South Plaza vegetation
Land iguana, almost a dinosaur
Tropic birds Ballet dancers of the sky
Name of bird unknown Frigate bird getting a free ride on the Eden

Waking early the next morning, Simon and Ang, along with the other Exclusive race teams, went ashore and walked to the Darwin Centre.   The purpose of this visit was to see the giant tortoise breeding program and to say hello to Lonesome George and his two concubines.  They walked around the hot grounds, visited George and said hello and greeted many other giant tortoises and land iguanas.

Lonesome George gorging himself Little baby giant tortoises
Smooth bill anis

After a brief lunch back on the Eden, the passengers were joined by another Team, this time from Switzerland.  They then all boarded a mini bus and made their way into the highlands of Santa Cruz.  Arriving at the private rancho, the team first walked into a lava tube and then around the grounds where they saw many giant free-range tortoises. Ang said “ they are absolutely huge! just incredible, like ancient wrinkly weathered half soccer balls with heads”

Racers behind a giant tortoise Ang sneaks up on an unsuspecting tortoise
Tortoise and the tree Tortoise gorging on grass during lunch

With this task completed, the team returned once again to the Eden for dinner, then walked around town and used the free Redgal wifi from the aft mid level deck.  Soon the Eden weighed anchor and set sail for Isla Isabela as the team slept.

Eden’s dinning room

….To be continued.


One thought on “Galapagos 2: San Cristóbal to Santa Cruz

  1. Best blog yet !! wow how huge are those tortoises ! How old is lonesome George ? what are those tails on the ballet dancing birds ? I love the vegetation,the sea lions and most of all the blue footed boobies !!! Lucky Simon and Ang to have visited such an incredible part of the world, wonderful memories for a lifetime !! xxx

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