Galapagos motor yacht cruise

2 - 9 Jan 2006

Swimming with sea lions, giant turtles, sharks and penguins


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I had visited the Galapagos 28 years ago and was prepared for a disappointment this time, but was pleasantly surprised on the whole. Of course there were a hundred times more tourists and Puerto Ayora had grown from a small village into a town.  Also there were more strict rules at the Charles Darwin research station – tourists are no longer allowed to sit astride the giant tortoises.  It seems shocking now to think we were allowed to back then, but there were so few visitors at the time and the guard treated the tortoises like pets.  He had even trained one of them to raise its head and long neck from the shell for us. “Saque, saque la cabeza!”, he would say.

At that time there was no road across Santa Cruz Island, but now the paved road provides access to the giant tortoises in the comparative ‘wild’of the farmland in the highland interior of the island.   Some of them were in the middle of the dirt track and had to be lifted out of the way of our vehicle.  That is the extraordinary thing about the Galapagos fauna – they are not in the least shy of people.

January is a great time to visit the islands and the only sensible way to do it is on board a yacht. We had booked 7 nights on board the small motor yacht Fragata with room for 16 guests.  The weather is much sunnier than in July when I’d gone there the first time and the water is warmer.  We were also able to hire wet suits for snorkelling.  The food was nothing special.  Fishing isn’t allowed any more so I didn’t get the chance to tire of crayfish this time.  Luckily we’d brought our own stock of wine, as there was a poor choice on board and they didn’t mind us consuming our own.

I kept a brief note of the wild life we saw each day:

3 January. Snorkelled at Santa Fé island.  The water wasn’t very clear but there were huge quantities of eagle rays, sea lions, turtles, yellow-tailed surgeon fish that swam right past us.  Looked up to see blue-footed boobies on the rocks.

4 January. Española Island.  Red-billed tropic birds, lots of marine iguanas, Galapagos hawks, night herons, masked and blue-footed boobies, swallow-tailed gulls, mocking birds, pelicans, oyster catchers.  Bit late in the season to see albatross but we saw one flying and one baby left behind.  Angry male sea lion on the beach, because another male was after his harem.  About 70 sea lions in all, I think – but I lost count.

Santa Cruz: Saque, saque la cabeza!

Santa Cruz Island: Giant tortoise

Santa Cruz: Giant tortoise blocks the road and our guide Cesar tries to push him away

Santa Cruz: It took two men to lift and push the giant tortoise off the road

Routing Santa Cruz, Santa Fé, Española, Floreana, Black Turtle Cove, North Seymour and Genovesa islands

Santa Fe island: Bon appetit!

Santa Fe: Land iguana eating cactus leaves

Española: arrival of the Fragata passengers

Española: Marine iguana

Española: Sea lion and marine iguana

Española: Masked boobies

Española: Our motor yacht Fragata in the background

JAlbum 6.2 Copyright: Angela & Flemming PEDERSEN