(I was intending to upload a post each day that I was cruising around the Galapagos Islands on the Daphne using my satellite phone. However, a setting in my web site’s internals would not cooperate and I was unable to upload posts directly from the boat. The disadvantage of this is that I now have to upload my travel notes for all eight days in one bunch. I can do this now that I am back in Quito and have access to wifi. On the other hand, the advantage is that I can include some photos in each post and I am sure that these will make them much more interesting.)
On our first day in the Galapagos, we were up early at 4.00 am, leaving our hotel with a packed breakfast, to get to Quito airport in time for a 7:00 am flight to the island of Baltra in the Galapos Islands.
The first sector of the flight was a short 30 minute flight to Guaquil, the largest city (by population) in Ecuador. About two thirds of the passengers departed there. A few more got on the plane and we then flew for about an hour and a half to Baltra.
From a quick glimpse out the plane window, I could see a number of small flat islands that look quite barren. One circular one was clearly an old volcano. It’s clear to me that people come here for the wildlife and not to see the scenery.
After landing, we went through a form of immigration process, paid our US $100 National Park entry fee and then had our bags screened for forbidden fresh fruit and food. We were soon on a bus for the short drive to the pier from which we were transferred out to our boat (MY Daphne).
Once aboard, we were given s safety briefing and then had a little time to settle in to our cabin and explore the boat. I’m sharing my cabin with a very personable young man in his twenties. He is an economist from Canberra.
The cabin is about 2 1/2 metres square – the size of our laundry at home. Its tight for space but seems to be efficiently laid out. In some ways, my lost bag was something of a blessing as I bought a smaller bag as replacement ( carry on size) and used it to pack about half the clothes I bought to wear on the boat. Anything larger would have taken up too much space in this small cabin area.
Out first wildlife sighting, just before lunch, were a number of frigate birds that hovered over the sun deck as we moved away from Baltra. They were easy to photograph and didn’t provide much of s challenge at all. Some Blue Footed Boobies also followed us along during this sailing trip.
Lunch was a buffet of pasta and salad followed by some very juicy fresh fruit. The boat carries sixteen people but there are only fourteen on this cruise. I’ll have to get used to ducking my head as there is not much head space when climbing up and down the steep stairs between decks. My cabin is on the upper deck.
Not only will I have to get used to steep steps but also to the rocking movement of the boat. The sea is relatively calm, but the boat does roll a little. Luke, my cabin mate, had already taken two pills for motion sickness but so far, touch wood, I’m OK.
After lunch we headed to a beach on Santa Cruz island in zodiacs from the boat which was anchored about 400 metres offshore. For the first two hours we walked along the beach spying various forms of wildlife. Amongst these were Sally Lightfoot Crabs, Blue Boobies and lots of other shore birds.
At the farthest end of our walk was a little lagoon. We thought that we might have been able to see flamingos but they were on holiday today. We did, however, see our first marine iguana.
Then we had about an hour to do some snorkelling. I didn’t go as far out a some of the others but they did see a green turtle and a sea lion came to play in the middle of our swimming group. The guide books are quite correct – you can get really close to the animals here.
Dinner tonight was chicken, rice and salad. We sat down to eat it after an introduction to the crew. This boat has a crew of seven – captain, two sailors., barman / cabin boy, engineer and two chefs.
Now is the time to see how well I sleep tonight while the boat is anchored of Santa. Cruz Island