South America

Galapagos, Ecuador, [Sep5 – Sep12, 2011]

The recent news: Santiago, Chile. Six weeks is now the new record for the longest time I have spent in one country on my trip. However, I still have a lot more to see in Ecuador. I am now staying with Cristian, a Chilean who I met while in Quito. Now I get to (am forced to?) practice my Spanish in an intensive homestay with a local!

There were only a few places on my itinerary that I had mentally circled as places that I was more excited to see than others, and the Galapagos Islands was one of these places. After finally getting there, I realized that my excitement was justified, and it will definitely be one of the highlights of my whole journey. I lost count of the amount of animals that I saw up close and personal. I would have thought it would get old, but the next century of iguanas still made me pull out my camera like the first century, and even the umpeenth baby sea lion deserved attention! Here is a sample of the land animals that I saw:

Galapagos giant tortoises – and I promise they are not small tortoises zoomed in

Marine iguanas

Land Iguana

Lava lizards

Baby sea lion

Galapagos crabs or Sally Lightfoot Crabs

From the town of Puerto Ayora on the main island of Santa Cruz, I took a five-day five-night cruise to the islands of Fernandina, Isabela, and Bartholomew. Activities for the cruise included walks, light hiking, snorkeling, and zodiac boat rides. Apart from the light hiking – which was a joke – the other activities were all amazing, and we kept seeing new and interesting things, right up to the last day. The snorkeling near the different shores of the Galapagos Islands were spectacular. They were the best snorkeling experiences that I can remember. Swimming after a shark in my final snorkel proved to be a perfect ending. I bought a new underwater camera mainly for the snorkeling photos in Galapagos, and I was lucky to get some good photos and videos (which I still have not been able to add to my blog yet).

White-tipped reef shark

Galapagos green sea turtle

Spotted ray

The five days of the cruise were five incredible days. Sure, there were a couple of times when the rocking of the catamaran disabled me, and our guide may have stepped on everybody’s toes at some point, but it would take more to tarnish the time I had there. The fifteen other tourists on the cruise were all wonderful people, and sharing this unique experience with them certainly added to my enjoyment of the trip. Among pretty photos of animals in my slideshow, you will notice a few of the usual food photos coming up as well. After the people and the animals, the food on the ship also deserves a special mention as an important part of the wonderful cruise.

Pelican

Common Stilt

Whimbel

Galapagos penguin – the only penguin living on the equator

Blue footed booby

Nazca booby

A yellow crowned night heron

Another type of heron?

Finch

Flightless cormorant – only one of over 40 cormorants that is flightless

Flamengos

Lava gull – supposedly one of the rarest animals in the world

Yellow wobbler

Frigate bird – they followed our cruise ship for what seems like an eternity

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