Galápagos Cruise (Santa Cruz, Española, Santa Fe, Floreana) – Ecuador

Day 1: Mosquera Islet

Finally my cruise has started. Today we went to Mosquera Islet, located in the North of Santa Cruz. After getting to know the others and some emergency training we set out on the Yate Darwin. The yacht is fine enough, unfortunate I am in one of the lower deck cabins where it smells like lower deck (dampness) and you can hear the engine and the generator very loudly. So, the boat is not quite the burner. It’s superior tourist class but I don’t think you can downgrade much…

The trip however, was AWESOME! We landed at that tiny sandy island, saw lots of sea lions and then spent like 1.5 hours swimming with them. At first I was a bit scared because they came up really close. But especially the young ones seemed to be so curious and kept shooting round us all the time. It was just unbelievably cool.

The evening we spent watching sharks, sea lions and pelicans hunt for fish around our boat. The fish kept jumping out so it seemed like lots was going on in there. The first night on the boat sucked due to loud generator and engine noises. At 3 am I woke up and slept on on of the sunbeds on the upper deck.

Day 2: Isla La Plazas and Santa Fe Bay

Early in the morning we got up to be the first ones on the island. There were lots of pretty, giant cacti, beautiful Galapagos sea gulls and – like always – sea lions. It was a pleasant walk, where we also saw the yellow iguanas, that only live on La Plazas.

After four hours of chilling and sleeping in the sun on board – well, and eating – we went snorkeling in Santa Fe Bay. Another stunning experience. The best thing was when a young sea turtle saw my go pro, got curious and swam up to me really close to check it out. It was so adorable. Besides that, I swam through huge fish swarms and generally saw lots of big, colorful fish and more sea lions. I also learned how to pee in the water, which I find quite hard and I can’t remember having done it before.

In the evening we landed on Santa Fe within a massive sea lion colony. Big ones, small ones, dark ones, white ones.. There were so many and the air was full with their weird sounds and noises. Some young ones played with sticks like real dogs, or chased us. The older ones generally fought or laid around all lined up. Further inland we saw lots of iguanas again and watched one eating a cactus leaf.

Day 3: Isla Española

I had another, well, lets call it not so awesome night on a sunbed at the upper deck. After two of them, I actually had sort of a grumpy day. In the morning we landed at Gardener Bay, a white beach with lots of sea lions and red-blackish marine iguanas. Those can only be found on Española. The rest of the morning I spent sunbathing and reading between sea lions and a playful pup jumped up to me and sniffed my towel. Before lunch we went snorkeling around a small, rocky island and swam again with five or six sea lions around a cave. The water was crystal clear, turquoise, and freezing cold….

In the afternoon we went on a hike at the eastern part of Española, to see lots of Albatrosses. Although they are monogamous birds, they do courting dances with their partners (well, or some others they know) every year and we were able to watch it. The whole thing appears very weird and reminds me of how they courted in the mid ages. They bend their necks to both sides, make strange sounds and then perform what looks like a fight with their bills. They repeat it again and again.

Day 4: Isla Floreana

That island is a bit different. It was the first one that got inhabited and doesn’t have so much wild life. It does, however, have beautiful beaches, one of them with lots of olivine crystals. There is also a “post office” where tourists leave post cards and hope other tourists will pick them up and deliver them to nearby home addresses. I picked up four, one of them even goes to somewhere in Wiesbaden. After that we passed by a lake with beautiful, pink flamingos. We also did some deep water snorkeling again, this time the water wasn’t so cold but the waves and currents were pretty rough. It was nice, we saw a baby turtle and lots of other nice, colorful underwater stuff, surrounded by rocks. The rest of the afternoon we sailed back to Santa Cruz which was the annoying part of the day – I just laid down and napped. Though I haven’t been as sea sick as I feared, while sailing I couldn’t be anywhere else then outside. Preferably laying down somewhere, reading.

Day 5: Darwin Station, Santa Cruz

The cruise ended with a visit at the Darwin Station, where we basically saw lots of different kinds of big Galapagos tortoises. Too many species has been extinct already and at that research station they try to breed and re populate more endangered species. We saw Diego, who came all the way from San Diego Zoo to get it on with some pretty females and actually had re-produced himself 800 times. When the babies are old enough they’ll get released into the wild. We also saw the famous “Lonesome George” – who had been the last of his kind for many, many years. With his death in 2012 his species (Pinta Island tortoise) extincted. But they preserved his body, so we could look at him and take pics.

After four days on sea, four nights sleeping under the stars on a sun bed I will not really miss this ship. It has been a great experience and I saw so many, diverse landscape and wildlife on the Galapagos Islands. My last night in South America I am spending in an actual bed, in an actual house. I am happy for everything I saw and did there, all the hiking, the cool animals, the stunning nature. I am also happy to be leaving to the US tomorrow where the last chapter of this world trip will start – the way back home.. You’ll hear from me there….

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