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BARTOLOME ISLAND, GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

Bartolome Island | Galapagos Islands | Ecuador January 18th, 2012

overcast 38 °C

The next day we boarded an even bigger yacht for the 2hr ride out to Bartolome Island. Breakfast was served on-route. Along the way we had dolphins follwing our boat, we saw sea turtles, a white tipped reef shark, and a manta ray jumped completely out of the water!!! I didnt even know they could do that!
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Here is a view of the volcanic Santiago Island along the way
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This is the volcano we climbed on Bartolome Island for the view of Pinnacle Rock. If you look closely you can see the path we took! Man was it a hot hike!!
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One of the views along our hike
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Black sand
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Ancient lava flows
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Lava Cactus
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Colorful Lava Grasshopper
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Another view along the way to the top of the craters
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The famous view of Pinnacle Rock from atop the volcano
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We then hiked back down, got back on the yacht and headed over to the orange sand beach we saw from the viewpoint. Kevin went snorkeling here ... this is where the penguins were supposed to be, but he didnt see any :( He did see tons of fish and a shark though! While he snorkeled I strolled along the beach and found some large seashells :)
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There was a sandy path that led to the other side of the island. There is another beach there, but swimming is not allowed cuz is a protected area for sea turtles. I saw 5 sea turtles swimming in the shallow water :) I had to climb this little sand dune to get there.
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View from atop that sand dune
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This is the 'beach' where the sea turtles were
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On the 2hr ride back we passed a few large buoys that direct larger ships into the bay ... every one of them had lazy sea lions snoozing on them :)
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Thats all for the Galapagos Islands! I sure wish we could've stayed longer than 5 days, I loved it here! One of my favorite countries :)

Posted by ChantelleS 21:06 Archived in Ecuador Tagged beach volcano galapagos ecuador Comments (0)

NORTH SEYMOUR ISLAND, GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

North Seymour Island | Galapagos Islands | Ecuador January 17th, 2012

overcast 33 °C

There are tour / travel agencies everywhere along the main drag in Puerto Ayora. We stopped at Albatross Tours and booked ourselves 2 yacht excursions. The first one to North Seymour Island, and the next one to Bartolome Island for $570 for both tours for 2 ppl. So today was the North Seymour excursion. A bus picked us up at our hotel and drove us across the island, through the highlands, to the opposite side, where our yacht awaited us (about 1hr of driving). We took a zodiac to our yacht and set sail. The island was approx 1hr away. Its teeny tiny, all black lava rocks, cactus trees and incense trees. This island is a birdwatcher's paradise!
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I cant remember what type of frigate bird this is, but the tree its sitting in is an Incense Tree. These are the trees the incense sticks that you burn are made from.
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Magnificent Frigate Birds were everywhere! I was hoping to see just 1 with his chest puffed out, but there were tons of them! The best part about these protected islands is how tame the wildlife is. The birds did not fly away. You could walk right up to them and they'd just look at you. They have absolutely no fear of humans! Its quite astounding actually!
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Again, not sure what type of frigate bird this is. Sorry :( There were just too many types of birds to keep track of! If you are big into labeling your photos correctly, I recommend bringing a small notepad to write down their names.
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There were a few Yellow Land Iguanas and little Lava Lizards as well.
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We only saw 2 Blue Footed Boobies up close, and a few Masked Boobies too far away to get a photo.
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Theres no beach here, just endless amount of black lava rock!
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Blue Footed Boobie on the lava rocks
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And amongst those lava rocks are sea lions! Baby sea lions! SO CUTE! Also, marine iguanas are camoflauged nicely in the rocks.
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Sleepy sea lions :)
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Young Sally Light Foot Crabs ... when they are young they are black, as they age they get more colorful.
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After about an hour long guided tour, we got back on the yacht. Our next stop was Las Bachas Beach, which is actually on the northern part of Santa Cruz Island. Dont let the clouds fool you, it was HOT! Lunch was served onboard as we sailed to the beach.
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A Blue Heron I believe ???
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A colorful adult Sally Lightfoot Crab.
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After a bit of snorkeling at this beach we headed back to the marina for our bus ride back to our hotel.

Posted by ChantelleS 20:08 Archived in Ecuador Tagged sea wildlife iguana animal lion galapagos ecuador Comments (0)

SANTA CRUZ ISLAND, GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

Puerto Ayora | Santa Cruz Island | Galapagos Islands | Ecuador Jan 15-20, 2012

sunny 37 °C

On Jan 14th, 2012 (our 4yr wedding anniversary) we flew from Belize City, Belize to Isla Baltra in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. Most people assume that the only way to see the islands is to go on a very expensive cruise. Not true. In the town of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island there are tons of hotels to choose from. Just book yourself a flight from Quito or Guayaquil to Isla Baltra (Santa Cruz Island) or San Cristsobal. $400 roundtrip with LAN Air. We stayed 5 nights at the Casa Natura Hotel for $150 per night. It had a pool & free breakfast. There were cheaper hotels, but we thought we needed a pool. Turnt out to be a waste to pay extra for the pool, as we were never at the hotel cuz we were too busy sightseeing. It was located 5 blocks from the main street along the ocean. Once there you can book yourself onto many excursions to nearby islands. Just do your research and figure out what you wanna see / do. From Santa Cruz we saw everything we wanted (except penguins ... there werent any when we went) ... sea lions, giant tortoises, marine iguanas, lava lizards, yellow land iguanas, blue footed boobies, frigate birds, beaches, volcanoes, lava tunnels, craters, etc. There is seriously no need for a $5000 per person cruise!

Our hotel was within walking distance to the Charles Darwin Research Station.
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These Cactus Trees were everywhere ... they have regular tree trunks, but cactus instead of leaves.
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Desert Flower
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There was a wooden boardwalk you had to stay on that meandered through the park.
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Giant Tortoises!!!
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Baby Giant Tortoises ... they were so tiny they coulda fit into the palm of my hand!
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Darwin's Finch
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There were also Yellow Land Iguanas here and lots of tiny Lava Lizards scurrying around
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Lava Lizard
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We walked along the main street that ran parallel to the ocean. Its lined with shops, restaurants, tour agencies, a marina, etc. We stopped at the Sol y Mar Hotel for a drink, and look who was snoozin' in the restaurant! A sea lion! All animals here are unbelievably tame! They dont run away, or growl, or anything. Half the time they dont even acknowledge you. Even the birds dont fly away! Its the easiest place in the world to get great wildlife photos, they practically pose for you :)
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I was so close to him I could smell his fishy breath!
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Another sea lion jumped out of the water right by Kevin, then proceeded to strut its stuff past the pool and onto a lounger and pose for some photos! LOL! There were several sea lions always in this hotel ... they seemed to own the place :) They'd be in the lobby, at the bar, by the pool, and in the restaurant. And no one seemed to mind. Same with pelicans & marine iguanas. They just wandered around like it was a hotel for wildlife. None of the hotel's employees ever shooed them out ... they were always free to roam wherever they pleased. I loved it here!!!
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Kevin hangin' with a sea lion by the lobby.
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Sea lion 'feet'.
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Me & a sea lion at the bar :)
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Sea lion, marine iguana & birds at the pool. You could approach them and they wouldnt move. Barely blinked an eye! So completely opposite of Kenya last year! I'm sure I could've laid down beside the sea lion all he woulda done is put a flipper around me :)
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Marine iguanas outside and inside the restaurant. You definately dont have to go in search of wildlife here! Its everywhere.
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HUGE marine iguana! Look at his claws!
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Little guy sneaking into the hotel
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Every day after sightseeing we'd head to the town's marina where the fishermen would be filleting their catch. Sea lions and pelicans would be lined up looking for scraps! Tourists were always gathered around taking photos.
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40lb Yellowfin Tuna
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This pelican managed to snatch a fish head! Theres no way it could physically swallow it, but he sure tried!
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Yellowfin Tuna
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One day we hired a taxi (all the white trucks you see everywhere are the taxis, not the traditional yellow cabs you see elsewhere) and ventured into the highlands to see the Giant Tortoises in the wild! Before we even got to where we were expecting to see them, we came across this guy on the road!
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There were about 30 Giant Tortoises roaming around!
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Me + Giant Tortoise
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Pond full of Giant Tortoises!
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Kevin and a Giant Tortoise
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Eating grass
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Tortoise bum :)
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You really had to watch where you stepped ... tortoise poop was everywhere! And it was the size of my foot!
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Tortoise foot
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Me inside a tortoise shell
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Kevin beside a tortoise shell
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Less than 5min from where we saw the tortoises, was a lava tunnel! Get your driver to drop you off, and then meet you at the other end. Theres lights along the way, but its still quite dark, and slippery. This is the entrance to the lava tunnel.
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Me inside the lava tunnel
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At one point we had to get down on our hands & knees and crawl through this narrow part! If you are claustrophobic, or quite large, theres a chance you wont make it through. But the good news is that this narrow part is only about 4 or 5ft long and then it completely opens up again.
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We spent 2hrs at Garrapatero Beach. Theres no shelter for shade here, and its incredibly hot (thats what happens when at the equator). Theres also no where to buy h2o, so be sure to bring some along. Our driver dropped us off and it was a 15-20min walk down a hot trail. We were the only people here! Now this is the kinda beach I like! I hate crowded beaches with fat guys in speedos and beach vendors hassling you to buy their crap non-stop! Get your driver to wait for you, or if you trust him to pick you up a a designated time, you can do that also. Theres no way to call another cab, we were literally in the middle of no where.
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Busy sand crab
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Marine Iguana struttin' down the beach
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Cactus Trees and lava rocks at the beach instead of palm trees
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Colorful Marine Iguana. They were everywhere in the lava rocks. At first we didnt see them, but if you look hard you will see them everywhere!
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Marine Iguanas are the only sea-going iguanas in the world, and they only live one place ... the Galapagos Islands :)
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Thats it for Santa Cruz Island. We did 2 boat tours to the nearby islands of North Seymour and Bartolome, but those will be in the next post :)

Posted by ChantelleS 16:56 Archived in Ecuador Tagged wildlife beach volcano galapagos ecuador Comments (0)

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