Mission Accomplished!

Well, I just finished my cruise around 9 of the Galapagos Islands yesterday. I have to say that it was quite an adventure. There is simply too much that I could write here about my 7 day/8 night voyage, so I will just list some of the really big highlights for you.

Landed on Española´s beach full of sea lions and their pups. I was able to approach then within about 1 meter (that´s a park rule), however it was hard to resist getting even closer. The pups seemed so curious about us two-legged mammals.

Saw Blue-footed Boobies practically EVERYWHERE. They seemed to be on just about every island we visited. I was able to videotape their mating dances too. Just awesome. And yes, their feet really are BLUE !

Observed many waved albatrosses on Floreana with their chicks which still had their down and were totally adorable. Videotaped lots of albatross play interactions in which the birds click their beaks together in a very ritualized display.

Snorkeled with green sea turtles, hammerhead sharks, white-tipped reef sharks (one of which swam RIGHT underneath me, within about 1 foot of my body), stingrays, and penguins. During one of our snorkeling excursions we came upon a sea turtle city — the turtles were EVERYWHERE under the water. Some were at least 1 meter wide — they were huge — especially the males which also have the longer tails. We also saw so many exotic fish — they were just gorgeous.

Watched the sunset over Pinacle Rock on Bartolome after climbing hundreds of steps to the top of that island.  Totally breathtaking.

Circled Kicker Rock (off the coast of San Crystobal) in our yacht early in the morning for a close up view of this amazing Galapagos landmark with several boobies perched on the cliffs of the rock.

Spotted 5 short-finned pilot whales following us along side our boat as we were leaving Isabella and Fernandina.

Spotted 4 orca whales just ahead of our yacht as we were crossing the Equatorial line (got  photos of the orcas and our boat´s GPS reading 0:00 on the equator).

Photographed several Nazca boobies in their nesting sites and with their eggs.

And or course, saw the largest land tortoises in the world on Santa Cruz Island! Some were well over 100 years old. Later we visited the Charles Darwin Research Station where we saw Lonesome Georg, the last of his kind from Pinta Island.

 So, it was a very successful cruise. There are so many other wonderful sights and experiences I could tell you about, but these are the most memorable at the moment. All I can say is if you love animals and nature, you MUST go to the Galapagos at some point in your life. It is definitely worth it.

I also have to comment on the wonderful crew aboard the Mistral II (our yacht). They were fantastic. In addition, there were just 7 of us on the cruise. Four passengers were from Switzerland, one guy was from Italy (he was a pilot and a complete comedian — we knicknamed him “Air Italia”), and two Americans (both of us from California) including myself. Our guide was wonderful and talked with us about many of the interesting behaviors of the animals we saw and also about the natural history of the islands. I videotaped the entire trip. Took loads of photos which I will be posting on a website after I return home. So, thanks for your patience — I know you all want to see photos — they are coming soon!

 I am now in Quito and loving it! I cannot tell you how much nicer Quito is compared to Guayaquil. I am staying in the Old Town at a very nice hostal in a good location. Today, I ventured out (after sleeping in until 8 am!) and visited several cathedrals and plazas in the area. Quito is a UNESCO world heritage site and you can understand why when you look at the amazing architecture. So, I will base myself here for the next 3 days before flying home on Nov. 23 (Thanksgiving). I plan to do a city tour and visit the Mitad del Mundo (Equatorial landmark) tomorrow, Otavalo market on Tues., and hopefully Cotopaxi volcano and national park on Wed.  So, it will be a full three days! I´ll probably post something my last night here. Stay tuned.







Explore posts in the same categories: My Travels, Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador (incl. Galapagos Islands)

One Comment on “Mission Accomplished!”

  1. Richard Says:

    Hi Laurel,
    Looks like you spent several days in heaven surrounded by animals! I will look forward to seeing your photos. Have a safe trip home.

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