Anyway, the flight from Guayaquil to the Galapagos was about an hour and a half. The AIRPORT in the Galapagos is basically a tin shed, with no walls, which made claiming our luggage kind of interesting... From the airport, we headed to Puerto Ayora where we were transferred to our home for the next four days - the Darwin Yacht (or, as the stickers we were given said, Darwin Yatch).
After settling into our cabins and a quick spot of lunch, we were off to the Charles Darwin Research Station to see the giant tortoises. We got to get right up close to them, which was pretty amazing.
|I was terrified that I was going to topple backwards and squish a tortoise...|
We also got to see poor old Lonesome George, the last Pinta Island tortoise (he died about a month ago, so now there are NO Pinta Island tortoises. SAD PANDA). He did look very lonesome...
|He's the rock looking thing behind the pond.|
And we got to see BABY TORTOISES!!! (Also? Do you have ANY idea how hard it was for me not to write 'Esio Trot' in all these sentences???)
|The colours painted on their backs tell the keepers which species they are.|
Wandering around the research station (which also houses lava lizards, iguanas, and a bunch of different bird species) took up the rest of the day. That night, back on the boat, we had a briefing about the next day's activities, before we headed to the upper deck for a few drinks. And at about midnight, we set sail! I had a rather exciting(??) night, because the door to my cabin decided to fall open by itself, and bang against the wall, scaring the crap out of me. (Thankfully, my millionty kilo pack held it closed very nicely for the remaining nights!)
The following day, we were up stupidly early and doing our first trip ashore before 8am on the island of Rabida. It was pretty incredible - the beaches are red volcanic sand. We got to see hermit crabs, marine iguanas, sealions, pelicans and Darwin finches.
|Marine iguana! They're kind of gross. There's almost no fresh water in the Galapagos, so|
they've adapted to drinking seawater and snorting the salt out through their noses...
|Cranky looking nesting pelicans|
And from there, we went snorkelling with several schools of fish, and a very curious sealion!! That part was ZOMG worthy, because the sealion swam along side us in the waves for a good ten minutes. After the snorkelling, it was back to the boat and off to Santiago. Public service announcement: taking a shower while sailing through choppy water is...interesting. On the plus side, there were a bunch of frigate birds handing out behind the boat, which was pretty awesome.
After a couple of hours of sailing and an hour for lunch, we were back in the dinghy heading for shore on Santiago. It's pretty amazing that two islands can be so close together and so completely different. Santiago had black sand beaches and a whole stack of crazy lava formations, along with TONS of marine iguanas, and a brand new baby sealion:
|Kooky lava formations|
|Baby sealion, mummy sealion, and a butt ton of marine iguanas|
We had a pretty long walk around the island, and wound up near some inlets getting to see a group of fur seals playing, which was incredible:
From there, we went snorkelling again, before sailing off into the sunset (literally) past a rock formation that was used for target practice during World War II (seriously), and a colony of masked boobies:
|Masked boobies. THEY'RE BIRDS, YOU SMUTTY PEOPLE.|
All in all? Not a bad two days!
Next up, underwater craters, sharks, and a dose of "Hey, I remember this from Master and Commander!!"