The Galapagos Islands Friday 28 September 2012 Plazas Am – Santa Fe PM

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We awoke early with the sound of the anchor being pulled and the motor starting as we headed towards our next destination. After a fine breakfast we were soon starting our first leg of today’s adventures.

First stop was the small Plazas Island. As we alighted from our dinghy we were greeted by a number of sea lions. Our walk took us through some very picturesque landscape in hues of red, yellow and green. There was a small heath like plant of red and a rather large smattering of cactus trees. And of course throughout there was an interesting selection of land iguanas. I think we were all quite interested by the fact that the sea lions were also found lying around the island quite a far distance from the water. Whilst we were standing overlooking the black cliffs on the far side of our walk we were fortunate to spot a group of golden sting rays in the water. They were not crystal clear from the height we were viewing them from, but I am sure if we had actually thought to whip out our binoculars we would have seen a lot better definition. But with something happening every few metres in this place it is hard enough to find the time to change your bloody camera lens for the right shot!

After this lovely start to the morning it was back on board for lunch and then a two hour ride to Santa Fe. The water was a bit rougher on this part of the journey and a few people were not feeling the best. I was glad I had learnt from past experiences and had taken precautions already.

Our afternoon was another fantastic session. Although the sky was overcast a few of us (some chickened out) donned our super sexy wetsuits and went for a snorkel. The beginning was probably my favourite as I swam with a number of sea lions and they were close enough to touch. Apparently one was trying to bite my flipper at one point but I was blissfully unaware of that! With all the abundance of larger sea creatures it’s easy to gloss over the fact that the fish are amazing in these waters also. The standout moment for me was when an extremely large school of big grey and yellow fish (yellow-tailed surgeon fish) were swimming directly below me, and another massive school of smaller slender silver fish swam over the top of them simultaneously. It was like two fluid waves of colour, movement and light moving effortlessly and seamlessly at once. It was magic and I felt a little like I had stepped into a scene in Nemo.

We swam around some more and up to one of the nearby beaches where a group of sea lions were lazying on the beach. We did spend a nice amount of time with two large turtles further out in the water. They were however not as close as the one I spent a long time with yesterday.

And as if we hadn’t had enough natural wonders for one day we next found ourselves on the island of Santa Fe, which was a much more desolate landscape than the island we had been on just two hours away. The iguanas here were sandy in colour and the ones we saw were substantially larger in size. A few in our group were lucky to snap shots of one of them with a mockingbird on its back nibbling away at something. We were also told about the Holy Trees that grow on the land here and that they have no leaves and the sap it excretes has a very pleasant odour that we all found familiar but could not place. Daniel, our guide, advised us that this plant’s sap is used to perfume South American churches. Hence the name, Holy Tree.

But the highlight for me was spending time on the two beaches where the sea lions were. They were endlessly entertaining and I swear some of them were deliberately posing for the camera!

Upon our departure our dinghy went through a school of I guess about ten sharks. This was the same beach I had swam up to earlier in the day. I can handle one shark at a time, maybe two, but I would not have been too impressed if I had got stuck in the middle of ten of those fanged fiends at once. I might add that this was after Daniel had reassured me earlier in the day that there were no sharks in this area as I was a tad perturbed after I saw the big daddy the night before!

Anyway, pizza awaits! Adios!

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