This was to be our last full day in the Galapagos Islands but it was to be a great day in that we got to experience a number of new sights that we had not enjoyed the rest of the week.
Before we had even got off the boat some of the people on our tour had the fortune to see a pod of killer whales. Damien and I were otherwise ensconced and missed out. This was a bummer but I hoped that they may appear again at some point.
We all boarded the dinghy for the ride across to Bartolome Island. The purpose of this island visit was primarily to see the geology of the island itself. The Galapagos still has a number of active volcanoes in the area and this island offered us the opportunity to check out the terrain that the lava has created. It was an extremely barren landscape but the island was quite beautiful despite its stark appearance. We climbed all the way to the top of one of the highest peaks where we were afforded excellent 360 degree views. While we were at the summit I happened to see something in the water below and instantly got excited as it looked like whales. I asked Damien for his binoculars and sure enough, it was the killer whale pod! Soon everyone was leaning over the bannisters to watch as the pod made its way around the island. In not too long a time, there was a small group of dinghies from the other tour boats in hot pursuit of the pod, which was a bit of a shame as the whales opted to go under water and disappeared out of sight.
That was one thing that was a feature of our last couple of days – other tourists. Prior to the changeover day (when we got some new passengers on our boat), we had been spoilt as except for one time, we had not seen another boat or group of humans. The solitary existence of the Yate Darwin and its passengers had the lovely effect of really making it feel as if it was just us and the creatures of the Galapagos. I guess that is one of the bonuses of travelling in the low season. I should add here that the low season has cooler weather and a bit more cloudy days, and apparently the rough seas we experienced on a few nights is also a feature of the low season. However, I for one felt that it was still a great time of year to be there as we got to see so many baby sea lions (and albatross, boobies etc) which we would not have done if we had come at another time of year.
I am certain that any time of year is a splendid time to go and affords unique sights to see. With that in mind I have to say that I am very much hoping we will return in the years to come to witness what other seasons have to offer. Damien and I have talked about this a lot so I am sure it will be so!
We were able to participate in two snorkelling sessions this particular day, but as the water was especially cold this day I only went out the once. In comparison to some of my other snorkelling days I thought this was not quite as impressive. What I enjoyed the most was the abundance of large and brightly coloured star fish on the ocean floor. I bailed early this snorkelling trip and so did a few others due to the cold.
The other creature feature of the day was seeing penguins. I saw one little fella jump off a rock and shoot through the water and then another group taking a break on the rocks.
In the afternoon we were treated to another interesting geological spectacle. We walked across hundreds of metres of desolate black lava flow that apparently is only about 100 years old. It was quite fascinating to see and Daniel went into great detail explaining the different formations we could see.
As this was our last full day, that evening the crew donned their white uniforms and we all shared a cocktail and I am sure a mutual reflection on what an amazing adventure the last week had been.
The Galapagos Islands Tuesday 2 October 2012 Isla Santiago: Puerto Egas AM – Playa Espumilla/ Caleta Bucanero PM
Today we commenced our time on Santiago Island by walking along the coast to a point where it is possible to see seals. There were the usual supply of iguanas, Sally Lightfoot crabs along the way as well as sea lions and turtles in the water. But for whatever reason it did not seem to wow me quite as much as previous days, and I do recall thinking that I was glad that we had been here for the first half of the trip as the new people had missed out on some rather spectacular days. Nonetheless, despite my blasé attitude that morning we were treated to a seal sighting. One lone seal but it was good just the same.
In the afternoon there was more snorkelling to be had and I was lucky to see lots of interesting creatures – turtles, sea lions, sharks and sting rays. I had bought a disposable underwater camera on Santa Cruz the day before so I was happy to be able to take some shots of my own. It was a little frustrating for me to have seen so many amazing aquatic sights at close quarters the past few days and not be able to capture the memories for posterity. I have yet to get the photos developed so I have no idea if they are crap or not! However, we were with a great group of people on this tour and we have all exchanged details so we can share photos, so I can at least keep some snaps from the others for myself.
In the afternoon our captain, Augustin, let our boat slowly cruise past some impressive island coastline. We were advised that two of the rock formations were “The Bishop” and “The Elephant” with a little bit of imagination you could see how they came to acquire these names.