After a day on Santra Cruz, we decided to change our flights, extend our stay at the islands and skip the volcanoes near Quito. Galapagos were just too good.
We were super excited and keen to get on our boat. On the first day we met half of our crew and went to check out another ranch with giant tortoises and lava tunnels/caves, which were pretty amazing.
At night we finally boarded and discovered that all 14 passengers were roughly the same age and we all clicked instantly.
Estrella Del Mar was a nice boat with a spacey interior and lounge area, a sun deck and rooms at the top and bottom. Lachie and I got the top room, which is less claustrophobic and has no fume smells, but it rocks a lot more. We were prepared and had lots anti-nausea tablets, but I still felt sick when the seas were rough. The tablets also made me drowsy and rather anti-social.
There were a few hick-ups along the way, because the boat was organised to leave at the last minute. There was a slight itinerary change, re-fuelling, one of the crew getting lost at sea and a few other annoyances, but to the boat owner’s credit we were compensated for it. The whole team was great and the guide although super nice, could have been a lot more knowledgeable and enthusiastic.
In all, the cruise completely blew my expectations. The landscapes were unlike anywhere else in the world, ranging from mangroves, to different coloured sandy beaches, to rainforest, to barren, harsh lava.
The diversity of animals and different species on every island was like stepping into a biology or an evolution class. Seeing the animals in real life made me stupidly happy. Most are not scared of humans and let you get very close to them, although the National Park regulations require a 2m distance.
The snorkelling, although freezing (and requiring a full wet-suit) still brings a tear to my eyes. The first time I got to swim with sea turtles and sea lions was one the the happiest moments ever. The Sea Lions were definitely my favourite – I spent a lot of time swimming and playing with them – the literally just cheekily dive at you and twirl around you. Then when you poke your head above water, you can see birds feeding – Pelicans and Blue Footed Boobies diving in at up to 100km/h. Then you snorkel again and the penguins are in the middle of catching a fish, and the sea iguana is just hanging on a rock under water. Another look down and the sting rays are there.
Seriously, WTF?! I felt like I ate magic mushrooms, it was that magical!
Day 1 – North Seymour (meant to be Rabida, but didn’t make it in time)
Day 2- Santiago
Day 3- Fernandina
Day 4 – Isabella
Day 5- Isabella
Day 6 – Santa Cruz
So without further ado, here are the photos… in this case they speak much louder than any words.