In the morning, I retrace my steps back to be at the airport by 10 am. There are some glitches. First, no guide until almost 11, but then Victor shows up and I am immediately impressed and charmed. Then we wait for a second plane to come in which is late. All in all, I spend almost 5 hours at the airport before we are ready to leave for the ship to settle in and unpack. (Note: This was the roughest part of the whole trip!)
Then we return to Santa Cruz Island for a trip to the highlands passing the twin craters en route. We hike into the highlands through mud and El Chato Lagoon looking for giant tortoises in the wild.
Spotting a footprint, we know we are on the right track.
Then we do a hike through lava tubes before returning to the boat. A welcome dinner and meeting the crew caps off the evening. We retire and about 11 pm the boat departs for Genovese Island.
Day 2–Genovese Island-Darwin Bay-El Barranco–181 photos taken
We awake docked off Genovese Island and it is like another world. The only other boat is the National Geographic Endeavor. After breakfast we take the Zodiac to shore for a wet landing. The frigates are courting and breeding. The males puff out a big red chest pouch to attract the females.
As we begin our hike, we see a few Galapagos Sea Lions lazing on the beach. One of the amazing things is these animals and birds have no fear of humans so you can approach rather close. Walking further, I see a midsized Marine Iguana hanging out by a sea lion.
We pass many Nazca Boobies, some are guarding the one or two eggs that they lay. The male and female take turns incubating the eggs while the other looks for food. A few have hatching chicks as well.
After the hike we go for a morning snorkel before returning to the boat for lunch.
Note: Many of the underwater photos in this and subsequent Galapagos blogs were taken by our extraordinary guide Victor and by Guy a passenger from Israel, both of whom graciously consented to share these images.
During and after lunch, the boat makes a short navigation to Darwin Bay where we disembark for another hike. On the far side of the island, we see a short haired owl almost invisible in the matching brush.
After our hike we do another snorkel. This was to be our pattern for the full eight days, i.e., a morning hike and snorkel, lunch on board, and an afternoon hike and snorkel, usually on another island.
Back to the boat and a wonderful dinner. After a little stargazing everyone is ready for bed early. The boat will leave about midnight for our next stop.