Galapagos Islands Sept 29-Oct 5 2014 Humboldt Explorer,
Island land walks on Santa Cruz & Isabella Island Oct 5-11 2014 Trip Report
Escorted by: Cindi LaRaia
"Our Epic Journey"
Secret Cave - Wolf Island. A 5 star wonderful cavern with lava tubes Juan Carlos surprised us with. Different chambers where we could go to the surface and breathe air and see how tall it was! Many different friendly giant marble rays, green sea turtles with a most surreal cerulean milky blue as we looked out to the ocean with 2 patrolling Galapagos sharks,,,quite a sight!
Sadly left the north islands, dove Cousins Rock, Leandro found us a lovely big orange sea horse, blennies in barnacles & sealions. All too cold for me however at 68F!
We had a wonderful walk on Bartolome Island, we were transported to the moon! Gorgeous dark volcanic scenery, set against a brilliant blue sea and turquoise bays for contrast! A lovely trek up many wooden steps to the lookout! Wow, the very same one they filmed the movie with Russell Crowe, Master and Commander! Stunning!
Eight of our group will stay on for 6 more nights to do incredible land walks from Santa Cruz Island for 3nts then onto Isabella for 3nts!
The Last Supper was held with our entire group of 16 at Il Giordino, the main meeting place and restaurant on the waterfront on Santa Cruz! Sad to say farewell to old and new friends. More adventures ahead for the rest of us ;-)
The next day we went to the highlands to see and photograph giant tortoises in the wild! A wonderful visit to include a sumptuous BBQ lunch with the local people in the highlands! Then off to the Charles Darwin research center to learn about how they manage the tortoises and save the different sub species from introduced rats and predators. A wonderful center, passionate about these beloved prehistoric creatures doing a good job to put them back in the wild at the right age where the survival rate is high!
Amazing how ‘man’ nearly wiped out these great giant tortoises, with never a thought about how sad it would be to have Galapagos without Tortoises, what are we made of? Appalling,, again!
The next day our Guide took us for a lovely 3k walk to Tortuga Bay Beach still on Santa Cruz Island. A gorgeous beach with mangroves, marine iguanas, turquoise water and blue sky!
Left that afternoon at 2:30pm by speed boat for our 2hr wild ride to Isabella Island! A fantastic island to spend 3nts on, or more if you can, a lot to do and it would be nice to be able to chill at your ocean front hotel with the sounds of crashing surf just a few feet away! This island has the smallest town and only open for tourism for 6yrs. The only vehicles are taxi trucks and some motor bikes, otherwise it is very easy to walk anywhere you want to go in town. Some fun great restaurants, with seafood, pizza and Caipariniahs, yummmm my new favorite drink, thank YOU Rebecca!!
The next morning at 8:00am our guide Dario with the National Park, took us on an amazing 10k hike to see the 2nd largest crater in the world called Sierra Negro, (the largest is Ngoro Ngoro Crater in Tanzania).
What a sight, the views and archeology stupendous! A gorgeous day with white mist falling over one side of the crater wall, the lava all uniquely different when the crater was formed. Another stunning sight to see! We then carried on, the last 4 k were brutal as we walked up and down on lava and lava tubes, we left planet earth at that point and were quickly transported to a place that looked like Arizona, Wyoming and the Badlands of the USA! Amazing scenery changing before our eyes around every corner with huge holes and lava tubes, colors changing from black to orange, with oxidation, so very dramatic & angry, it just takes your breath away! Spectacular!
The trek in this part was difficult with a lot of up and down with sharp lava, hot and dry. We finally got to the top with breathtaking views, now we are transported to the moon! This area is called Volcan Chino, many different volcanos across many miles of majestic scenery with the blue ocean as the backdrop. No words can describe this, after a brutal trek to get there, to sit and take in the splendor of the vistas in quiet peace was required.
A fun night back in town with Sophie buying Caiparinia’s for us to celebrate a glorious day for us all! Love her!
The next day held more fun with amazing Kayaking off the beach and Paco leading the way through the harbor and sea shore. We all had so much fun in our double kayaks! We saw so much; playful sea lions, penguins, blue footed boobies on the black lava & marine iguanas!
Then we went snorkeling in the harbor where the boats come in, not expecting much,,,,, IT WAS MIND BLOWING!! The best snorkel of my life!!! Mama mia we saw everything!! After screaming getting in the water with only a lava core vest in freezing cold water (bring your wetsuit),, saw a school of sardines with the most playful sea lions twirling around us and blowing bubbles in our faces and making us dizzy with laughter!
We went all around the mangroves and saw everything! Two penguins on the rocks we got 2 ft away, they are a mated pair and clearly smitten with each other. Then one little penguin swimming up into our masks as we stood in shallow water with them, he loved my Gopro and pecked at our masks and gave Maria a love peck on her lip!! Adorable! He stayed with us forever so all could get some love and pictures they have really cute fat feet!
So off we go to see what else the wonderful world of OZ would offer! Are you ready? Marine iguana’s swimming with us!!! OMG! I got great (I hope) video as I swam beside him, only his head out of the water, great reptilian movement! The 2 things we had hoped to see in the water we saw within minutes up close and personal!!! Paco took us on swimming through the harbor in lava cuts, the current came in and we had to swim hard, and there beside us, a HUGE green sea turtle!! Wow and another,,,, just swimming along with us, non-fussed! The most amazing phenomenon in the Galapagos are the animals are NOT afraid of humans, you can get close to everything!
An amazing morning with kayaking and snorkeling!!! Outrageous!
Lunch in town then guess what? A bicycle ride at 230pm to see the Wall of Tears from WWII Ecuador prisoners. They put the bikes in the taxi truck with us to the hand built wall for prisoners and we biked downhill for 8K and stopped along the way to see more amazing stuff on this magical island Isabella!
The wall of tears is a wall made of lava that the prisoners from Ecuador, it took them 13yrs to build, they lived in camping style there, not quite like a prison, a bit odd and very remote!
We saw a marine iguana nesting area at the beach. Climbed a lookout, very beautiful where we could see many volcanos! Land tortoise breeding research station with different sub species almost killed to extinction, now making a slow comeback!
A wonderful place where Pink Flamingos hang out now, and we saw them mating andflying in the air, a very lovely place!
Isabella is a very new island for tourism, maybe 6 yrs old. The town is great, the only cars are the pickup truck taxis on dirt, and bicycles. Everyone walks as everything so close! One church, many restaurants that are great, 2 laundry mats, a kayak and snorkeling/diving/ bike shop!
Our last amazing day was the pinnacle; the cherry on the top of the hot fudge Sunday; a trip to Los Tonnelles!!! We took a 1 hr boat ride out to this labyrinth of lava tunnels out in the middle of the sea!
WE arrived at low tide, it was so beautiful, and the captain eases the boat within inches on both sides of these lava tubes and gorgeous bridges like a maze, into pools of seawater. We climbed out to see a new phenomenon the last 2 years, Blue Footed Boobie families at our feet!!
They were mating, dancing & whistling within inches of us,, without a care in the world! Some had tiny new born chicks, one sitting on 2 eggs, one with a big older white fluffy chicks, unreal!!
We saw 3 big sea turtles swimming below us in a pool, then a white tip shark, all meandering thru the mosaic of black lava tunnels, blue and turquoise water full of sea life and different birds!
WE donned our snorkel gear, screaming as I got in, sooo cold, Dario took us all over like the pied piper leading the way,, what a magic ride! He was amazing and knew exactly where to take us. We held our breath and swam under Lava bridges, some have orange sponge balls, and pretty soft flowing colorful marine plants.
We swam with 2 giant green sea turtles, he showed us a brown seahorse, took us to a small pool filled with 7 LARGE adult white tip sharks in shallow water, that was interesting!
The absolute highlight was at some magical point snorkeling in one of the twists and turns we arrived in a shallow pool. It was a surreal sight to behold, 9 small gorgeous GOLDEN cow rays, being led by a baby spotted eagle ray, this was the most amazing surprise! These are normally seen in mangroves and not easy to find! They were so non fussed we were there, we all swam with them, getting video and images to our hearts content! They were small only about 12 inches across!
This was a 5 star, off the planet snorkel!!! I have never enjoyed anything like this before. WOW!!!! The cold water was worth freezing to death! I was speechless!
Isabella Island is most amazing and simply EXTRAORDINARY! We have been such lucky stars, no one could believe what we saw!! WE saw everything these 2 islands have to offer, and up close and personal! No guarantees and we had the most magical experiences ever!!
This trip was entirely SENSATIONAL and EPIC!
Live, love, LIFE!!!