Sunday, February 27, 2011

Galapagos Day 2: Puerto Egas, Santiago Island and Pinnacle Rock, Bartolome Island

Day 2 was our first full day on board, and most days followed the same general schedule, with various revolving activities. We received a wake-up announcement over the loudspeaker, then ate breakfast, and then we were heading to our first excursion of the day by 8 a.m. Most days we would do at least one, usually two hikes, in addition to one of the following- kayaking, snorkeling, or a panga ride for inaccessible areas. The activities ranged from one hour to three hours, and I swear the Eclipse staff had the spacing down to a science. We would do our first excursion around 8 a.m., and if it was a three hour trip we'd come back and have a bit of a rest before lunch, if it was shorter we'd do two excursions before lunch. After lunch we always had about two hours of leisure time- we usually spent this taking showers and naps, or lounging on the deck- and then in the afternoon there would be one or two excursions. We'd be back at the boat around 4, and they would have an afternoon snack waiting for us in reception (the fried plaintains and hot chocolate were my favorite!). Then, we'd usually shower again, maybe take another nap- we were very active, and got up at 6:45 each morning- before heading to the conference room for a de-briefing at 7:30 p.m. We'd go over the next day's activities- each time slot had two options, which meant that sometimes there would only be 6 people in your hiking group, which was awesome- one of the two guides would give a short informative talk, we'd all (minus me) have a drink, and then we'd have dinner at 8. After that we'd roam around the deck visiting, but most nights we were sound asleep by 10:30. I loved the perfect balance of super active, intense physical activity, and delicious, lazy, leisure time and fabulous food.

The morning of day 2 we headed to Puerto Egas, on Santiago Island, for a long hike.
It was actually kind of drizzling when we first landed, but I found that the weather really amplified the "mood" of Santiago. Every island was so completely different. The first day was stereotypical white sand/blue water, but Santiago had fine black sand and was covered in smooth swirly lava formations. This guy was a welcome party of one when we landed.
This picture perfectly captures Santiago island to me. I really liked the look of it.
There were lots of sea lions hanging around (my favorite part of the trip was all the sea lions in such close proximity).
Babies left behind while their mothers are fishing. They were so cute. No matter how many I saw, it never got old. Our guide for the day was Gilda, and she has been a Naturalist Guide for 15 years, yet even she would coo at them when she saw them. The cuteness never wears off.
All of the islands had vastly different plant life as well- Santiago had lots of these scruffy red plants, which looked really beautiful against the swirly black lava.
There was also a ton of very bright green vines. I thought this island looked like The Land Before Time.
Marine iguanas- they are much more colorful than normal here because it was the tail end of mating season.
Oh to be a sea lion.
The patterns in the lava swirls were so interesting to me.

Hot tub, bachelor style. Their smug expressions are perfect.
See what I mean about the Land Before Time?

This little sea lion pup nestled here at high tide, and then when the tide went out it was stranded. No better way to kill time than to nap, right?
Another shot of the natural bridge- this is where we saw our first sea turtle.
There are lots of cacti on the islands- it was surprising to me to see water and sand, and then a clump of cacti.
What a sleazeball! Check out that epic lecherous wink.
Indifference between the animals abounds. Sea lions and marine iguanas basically act like they are unaware of the existence of one another. Same with the crabs.

After our hike, it was time to snorkel. I'd never snorkeled before, or worn a wet suit, and it was awkward.
Gilda told me to leave my socks on so my flippers didn't fall off. I was wearing kids' size flippers but they were still too wide. So I'm not being a goober newbie, I was just following orders.
Awww, who's handsome in his wet suit??
I tried out a dive, and it wasn't as scary as I thought it would be. The only downside is that the mask didn't allow me to pinch my nose and blow out the pressure in my ears, so I ended up with an earache afterward. Thank goodness for the free on ship doctor. He fixed me right up.
Eagle ray- there was another ray, but we didn't get a picture of it.
First sea turtle spotting during snorkeling.
These fish were all around me, but it was hard to capture them all on film. This guy will have to be a representative for his comrades.
A little reef shark. A bit blurry since he was so far below me- about 20 feet.
Our first sea lion play time. This guy played with us for a while so we weren't taking pictures during, but we got a shot of him as he sped off. I loved snorkeling, and I was so grateful to finally get the chance to try it out.
After the hike and snorkeling on Santiago island, we headed back to the ship for lunch. The afternoon's excursion was a hike to Pinnacle Rock on Bartolome Island. This was the most "dock like" of all our dry landings, and as usual there was a sea lion on the steps. We would come to find out that for some reason they really love steps.
And speaking of steps, in addition to the long stretches of walkway (installed to protect the vegetation) there were also 272 steps to the top. Don't worry, I didn't count, they told us that so that we could gauge our fitness level before committing to it.
Bartolome is covered in choppy lava rocks, in all shades of red, purple, cream, and yellow. It also has a lot of lava cacti, the tube shaped plant in the foreground.
Our path goes on...
This picture looks kind of ugly. But in person all the colors were a lot more vibrant.
Even the huge lava rocks were really light- it was strange to pick up a big, gnarly lava rock and have it feel no heavier than Bobby's camera.
Almost to the top!
Made it. The view from the top of the hill overlooking Pinnacle Rock was amazing.
This is a zoomed in picture of that dividing line between the two little bodies of water on either side- it was so green on blue, which was a huge contrast to the lava rock covered island.
Bobby and his dad.
All of us, minus Chad. I think he was taking the picture.

We hiked down and headed back to the ship to clean up before dinner. Afterward we were advised by the waitstaff to head out to the deck to see the sharks- sharks, we asked? We walked out and were shocked to see tens of Galapagos sharks following the ship, feeding off fish. Apparently, the small fish are attracted to the underwater lights off the back of the ship, and then those fish attract the sharks since it's easy pickins' for food. We stood out there for half an hour watching them. I tried to get pictures, and a video, but the light wasn't bright enough for either, so I just gave up and enjoyed watching them. With two separate hikes and the snorkeling, plus a bit of seasickness remedied by sleep inducing Dramamine, bedtime followed soon after.


  1. Eeeek my stomach dropped when I saw the shark on your snorkel trip! I know they're not technically dangerous... but still.

    So cool you did a dive snorkeling, I never could work up the nerve to.

  2. I couldn't master the whole "leave enough air in your lungs to blow the water out of the tube when you surface" thing though, so when I would come up I'd just pop my head all the way out of the water, take a breath, blow out my tube, and go back to snorkeling. It was pretty crazy though to be "breathing underwater", since I'd never snorkeled before. My friend recently got certified to scuba dive, and now I think I might be interested.

    The shark freaked me out a bit too :) Especially when we saw them feeding off the back of the ship later that night- they're not Great Whites or anything, but Galapagos sharks are still pretty big, and as I watched them devouring fish I thought "huh. I was snorkeling with you earlier..."