Before continuing with the rest of the trip, I wanted to share some more pics from the area where we went on the first snorkeling trip. Look at all the cacti. Also, more sea turtles!
I don’t know what kind of bird this is but it looks like it came straight out of a Pixar movie. Look at those eyes!
So I initially thought these were seals but some brief internet sleuthing helped me determine that they are actually sea lions. Apparently seals are smaller and more rotund. Anyways, we saw a lot of sea lions in Galapagos. Very entertaining creatures.
Aside from the group of Chileans’ best efforts to violate my personal space in every conceivable way, including kicking me with their flippers on multiple occasions, and pulling on my face as I tried to come up out of the water, I would say the first snorkeling trip was a great success.
Among the other animals we spotted on Isabella Island while not snorkeling: flamingos! This is the second time I’ve seen flamingos in the wild. The first time was in Kenya at Lake Nakuru. There were a lot less flamingos on Isabella Island but it was still super cool to see them in the wild again. We even saw one fly off pretty quickly but I didn’t get my camera up fast enough to catch a pic.
Our second snorkeling trip was not as far from the port and didn’t require a boat ride. We took kayaks around to a couple of snorkeling hot spots and saw more sea turtles, a diving sea lion, and a number of penguins convening on the rocks. This snorkeling trip involved getting smacked in the face by waves rather than flippers worn by Chilean tourists, but it was still a success.
After a couple of days at Isabella, we eventually took the boat back to Santa Cruz. We originally had planned to go scuba diving but after two fun but tiring snorkeling trips in which we saw all of the animals, it didn’t seem necessary. What did seem necessary however, was spending a couple of hours exploring caves and hanging out with giant tortoises. For that, we hired a driver to take us to the El Chato Tortoise Ranch.
The road that takes you to El Chato is beautifully lined with trees that create an almost perfect canopy. These aren’t the best shots but I have some video, which I’ll need to get uploaded.
We explored a couple of caves on the grounds but none of my pics came out that great so on to the giant tortoises!
The tortoises are massive and most of them remained prone while we walked around, but a few of them were doing their thing, slowly trudging around, munching on what I can only assume was the best of the best fruits, while their bird friends hung out close by. Speaking of birds, check out this little guy!
Giant tortoises are pretty awesome. While watching them, I was brought back to my childhood watching Gamera from the Godzilla universe, from my brother’s massive VHS collection. Look at these majestic creatures, so cool!
On our last full day in Galapagos, we walked to Tortuga Bay, which is a stunning white sand beach that is supposed to be off limits to swimmers. The driver who took us to El Chato actually mentioned that he had gone surfing there one time and came really close to drowning.
I think I already mentioned that there are iguanas all over the place in the Galapagos but there was one area in particular by Tortuga Bay where there were HUNDREDS of them. Like the penguins, some of these dudes were hard to focus on with the camera, because their dark skin was such a close match for the rocks.
A short walk from iguana central, we spent a couple of hours at a much more safe and calm beach, where we saw a fearless baby white tipped reef shark, who had no qualms about swimming within a foot or two of people walking along the beach.
We also saw a few adult white tipped reef sharks resting on the far end of the beach in pretty shallow water near some trees. I think I can say that to my knowledge, it was the closest I’ve ever been to a shark in the wild. Eventually the beach closed for the day, a little earlier than we expected, but it was still a great way to spend the afternoon as we came close to the end of the trip.
We had an awesome time in Galapagos but if I were to do the trip again, I’d make it an extra couple of days so that on days between doing things like kayaking and snorkeling, we could spend more time resting and relaxing on the beach. What a beautiful, unique experience. If you haven’t been yet, add the Galapagos Islands to your travel list. Thanks for reading. Cheers.