The Galapagos archipelago lies about 1’000 kilometers west of the Ecuadorian coast in the Pacific Ocean. It consists of 13 bigger, 6 smaller and 42 tiny islands, which could also be called bigger rocks.
In 1535 the islands were discovered by chance and the sailors were amazed of this group of islands so far out in the open sea. They gave the archipelago the name „Islas Encantadas“ (enchanted islands). And the islands have not lost this magic to this day. The diversity of species is unsurpassed and there is hardly a place on earth where animals can be observed more easily in the wild than on the Galapagos Islands.
The Galapagos Islands were declared as the first World Heritage Site in 1978.
We land on this beautiful archipelago on July 9th and get aboard on the San Jacinto, which will be our home for the next 8 days.
Beside the 10 crew-members, we are 14 passengers on board: 7 Americans (Jodie, Kelly, Kerry, Cindy, Lynn, Ryan, Trenton, Adam), 2 Dutchmen (Job, Willamijn), 1 Canadian (Meghan), 1 New Zealander (Xavier), 1 Swede (Ina), 1 Swiss (Lukas).
Right after our checkin we find ourselves already in the pangas (dinghies) to get to discover the surroundings. We meet our first Marine Iguana (the only marine lizzard to exist in the world), many Flamingos and other bird species at the snow white Bachas Beach. During snorkeling we observe our first sea turtle, sting ray and many fishes. Even though the temperatures are pleasantly warm, the water is not. Therefore we are glad to have rented wetsuits for the whole trip!
Day 1 at sea:
We spend the night under enormous waves. Our belongings fly around like pinballs, while the waves pile up higher and higher. Thanks to Sea-sickness pills we survive the night without any damage 🤭.
Our first visit on Isabella Island is Las Tintoreras, some small offshore islands. We spot countless marine iguanas, whitetip sharks, sea lions and blue-fooded boobies.
The underwater world shows its most beautiful side during our second snorkeling. Many fish – and animal species gather to rest or warm up in the low, crystal clear water. Some sea turtles even pose for the camera – what excites us a lot.
In the afternoon we visit the Centro Crianza Tupiza in the small village Puerto Villamil. It is a sanctuary for giant turtosis in which 330 turtosis currently live. Afterwards we discover the flora and fauna of Los Humedales on a nearby trail that leads us through mangrove forests, lagoons and sandy beaches.
Day 2 at sea:
It was an extremely quiet night and we start the day at 07:15 with a visit to Punta Moreno. We discover an impressive lava landscape dominated by the volcanoes Cerro Azul and Sierra Negra and learn a lot about the formation of this wonderful island, which is mainly inhabited by the dangerous looking but extremely peaceful Marine Iguanas. Punta Moreno is home to the largest Marine Iguanas of the whole archipelago. They live side by side with the fluffy Sea-Lion Puppies – a very funny but also fascinating contrast. An absolute highlight is today’s snorkeling… Sea turtles as far as the eye can see. Stunning!!!
We sail ahead to Tagus Bay, which is located in the west of the island. Once upon a time this place used to be a popular base for pirates and whalers. At Tagus Cove the past days of pirates and whalers are still visible today. Names and dates have been carved or painted on countless rocks. What could be considered as a grafitty today, had a simple purpose in the past: to inform lster arriving ships that they were here and still alive. Surprisingly, there were inscriptions from swedish sailors too.
During our snorkeling tour we watch beautiful coral fishes, a bullhead shark and penguins hunting their prey. Wow! On land we have the chance to see the extremely rare Land Iguana and enjoy the view of the lava fields of the Darwin volcano. Inas personal highlight in the evening: IceCream (which she obviously enjoys ☺️).
Day 3 at sea:
We reach Fernandina Island overnight. It is the third largest and at the same time the youngest island of the archipelago. It consists of a very active shield volcano, which last erupted 10 years ago (on april 10th, 2009). A young sea lion (only a few weeks old) greets us at Punta Espinosa just before we find our way through mangrove forests to a huge lava landscape where we discover a whale skeleton, snakes and an unexpected sea turtle oasis. This place seems to be very popular for sea turtles, because during our snorkel we count about 30 (!) of these lovely creatures. Today we also spot the biggest hunter on land (the Galapagos Sea-Hawk), the extremely agile, flyless Cormorans and hundreds of lizards and Marine Iguanas.
On Punta Vicente Roca we jump into the rough water to discover colorful coral fish on the steep reef… but the waves developed to such an extent that we have to stop snorkeling immediately.
Our trip continuous and we cross the equator in the afternoon, which is celebrated extensively with the crew 😃.
The absolute and unchallenged highlight of the day follows shortly after: a humpback whale jumps out of the water just in front of the boat, which takes our breath away… soon it becomes clear why he did it: the fin of killer whales let us assume that the huge animal was on the run from this intelligent hunters.
Day 4 at sea:
Overnight we reach Santiago Island where we observe the breakfast of sharks and birds just in front of our ship (lucky hunters – poor fish). Inspired by this scenery we eat our breakfast followed by a wet landing @ Playa Espumilla (brown, sandy beach). We watch the attack of a hawk on a visibly exhausted white bird which escapes the last second. Hundreds of Ghost Crabs cover our way along the beautiful beach, while blue footed boobies and pelicans plunge into the water to fish. When a whitetip reef shark appears in the shallow water, the walk is perfect – as is the following snorkeling.
The variety of fish in all imaginable sizes and colours is breathtaking. The highlight is a playful sea lion who first presents us a sea cucumber as his toy, then he nibbles on a starfish and shortly afterwards chases after a visibly stressed baloon fish. We could have watched him forever 😍.
In the afternoon we land at James Bay, a black sandy beach. Beside an amazing landscape we spot 5 Land Iguanas which makes our guide scream for joy. The settlement of these rare creatures is considered as extremely difficult and that 5 Land Iguanas are showing up at once, is according to Pedro something extraordinary.
Day 5 at sea:
Today the island Rábida is on the program. It is one of two small islands in the south of Santiago Island. Although it is only a small island, it has a greater variety of rocks and lava types than any other Galapagos island.
We decide to start the day a little earlier to watch the sunrise. In combination with the picturesque red beach, the giant manta rays, the numerous birds and sea lions, it is indeed a great start to a brandnew day! On land we discover a unique cactus landscape, underwater a world full of life and diversity.
In the afternoon we finally reach the small island Sombrero Chino – the most beautiful and impressive snorkeling spot of our Galapagos trip! What we see in the turquoise blue, crystal clear water is simply unique, breathtaking and magnificent! It seems that we are swimming in a huge aquarium and it’s almost too beautiful to be true!
On the followed boat ride to our next destination we finally discover a huge humpback whale with its calf – right next to our ship! We are so lucky!!
The further way to Santa Cruz Island is no pleasure. The wind has increased, the waves pile up higher and higher and as the daylight fades it is a torture. Ina and I decide to have dinner in the fresh air, what seems to be the only right choice. Brave Ina gets an ice cream from the kitchen chef and I am truly proud of her!
Day 6 at sea:
The day on Santa Cruz Island starts slightly rainy before the sun shows up again. Wonderful. Today we visit the Charles Darwin Station that was founded in 1959 to protect the Galapagos Islands. We learn exciting details about the history and rearing of these proud animals.
Did you know these creatures continued to reproduce – thanks to one single turtoise? „Diego“ is a real hero on the island!!
We observe wild giant turtoise in El Chato 2, where we also get the opportunity to climb through a huge lava tunnel. Very impressive!
In the evening we officially say goodbye to the crew, have a farwell drink and enjoy the delicious birthday cake for Jodie, which the ship’s chef baked especially for her!
Day of departure
We have our last excursion early in the morning to visit North Seymour Island. We get one last view of the Frigatte Birds, the proud blue footed boobies and say goodbye to the sea lions. At 10:05 we finally leave the Galapagos archipelago with AV1633 and look back on an incredible time on the Galapagos.
Continuation of our travel:
We travel via Guyaquil and Lima into the rainforest of Peru. Next stop: Puerto Maldonado.