We meet our guide, Enrique, at the airport along with all the other passengers who will board the boat today. And when all 10 of us are gathered, we board a bus for a small harbor just over the hill. This is Isla Baltra, and there is a small dock where Zodiacs tender people to their floating homes. Victor and Jefferson are crew on the King of the Seas and they come to the docks to pick us and our luggage up. When we get to the boat we are assigned bunks and cabins and settle in while the boat has already pulled up anchor and is bound for Bachas Beach on the north coast of Santa Cruz. Here we take the Zodiac to shore and go for a walk along the dunes before we go for a snorkel in the turquoise waters along the rocky shore. There’s a small lagoon set back from the water that is still and quiet. We watch flamingos searching for small shrimp for their dinner.
We see lots of Sally Lightfoot Crabs along the shore, and a Pelican rests on the rocks.
Back to the boat for dinner and lots of great conversation with the other passengers. The boat anchors for a few hours, thankfully, after dinner and then starts for Rabida Island during the early hours of the next day. We board the Zodiac early in the morning and head to the red sand beach where sea lions snooze.
We take a short walk around this edge of the island and over the ridge to see a small bay on the other side. There are a few boats here and other Zodiacs bring passengers from other boats to the island. We walk back to the beach where the crew has brought our snorkeling gear. After donning wet suits, masks and fins we hop in to snorkel along the rocky inside corner of this cove out to a point. There are huge schools of fish of all sizes and colors, chocolate chip starfish, White Tip and Galapagos sharks and sea lions in the water. It’s incredible. Then after 40 minutes or so we load back up in the Zodiac and go back to the boat to move on to Santiago Island and Puerto Egas later in the day. Dolphins swim at the bow of the boat and the race off and jump every now and then as we leave them behind.
Trading red sand for black sand, we land on the beach and start with a snorkel before we take a nice long walk around the shoreline. Again, the water is peppered with fish, large and small. We see turtles and urchins and more starfish. After drying off and getting dressed, off we go in search of the local wildlife. Beautiful birds flitter around each island and we find Brown Pelicans, Magnificent Frigates and Great Frigates on each of them. Sea lions are lounging here too, and sometimes rest side by side with the black Marine Iguanas who alternate between swimming in shallow waters to find algae to eat and warming up in the sun.
Sand and what I thought was soil gives way to slabs of smooth lave and then to rocky lava and on we hike. It’s dark black and the texture of the lava is beautiful. In places there are swirls and then bubbles and in other places big lightweight roundish rocks of it…it amazing how much it can change based on how it cooled. There are dozens of Iguanas all over the place, and more crabs. We cross over a lava bridge and can see a Pacific Green Sea Turtle swimming in the water below with a Fur sea lion. Galapagos Islands are a paradise for nature lovers.
Graciella, our guide, practically has to pry us all off the island and back to the boat. Only the promise of seeing more keeps us moving. On we go around the north side of Santiago, traveling clockwise and to Sullivan Bay tomorrow morning.
We take the Zodiac to a dry landing on the edge of the lava field where it ran like a river down to the sea. Black and incredibly textured, it runs on for what looks like miles from this side of the island. we make our way across the lava field by tacking from white post to white post where the national park has marked a safe route to avoid fissures and crevices. Thankfully it’s cool this morning as I can only imagine how hot this black surface gets under this equatorial sun. Graciella explains the geopgraphy here and how the islands were formed. It’s interesting, but I’m confused at one story where she swap the word goats for ghosts and I’m having a hard time understanding how ghosts caused soil erosion from overgrazing. Her English is really good, but I’m having a hard time tuning in this early in the morning.
After an hour we finally loop back tp where we started. Instead of going for a snorkel along the edge of the black lava flow I opt to sit on the small sandy beach that has formed with sand drifting into a corner of the shore. It’s peaceful…and half the passengers choose to stay here with me. It’s already been a full day and it’s not even 10am.