Blue Footed Booby drawing


In May 2011 I did a one week cruise around the Galapagos Islands with Peregrine Adventures. The trip was called 'The Galapagos in Depth', and visited eight of the islands. This trip provided interesting volcanic scenery and amazing encounters with a large variety of wildlife. A selection of photographs from this trip is contained below. Click on the thumbnails to see larger images:


Our group met in Quito then flew out to the Galapagos Islands the following day. After a two hour flight the aircraft landed at Baltra airstrip, which was originally built by the Americans during the Second World War. From here we transferred to our boat, the M.Y. San Jose, then began our voyage around the islands.


Our first excursion was to Caleta Tortuga Negra (Black Turtle Cove) on the north coast of Santa Cruz Island, where we motored in small dinghies around a lagoon surrounded by mangroves. There were many brown pelicans nesting in the trees, plus spotted eagle rays, small reef sharks and sea turtles swimming in the water.


We arrived early the following morning at James Bay and Puerto Egas on the western side of Santiago Island and spent a few hours ashore exploring the coastline. Along the track we saw quite a few lava lizards, many of which were bright red on the underside of their heads.


As we walked around the rocks along the shore we saw many prehistoric-looking marine iguanas, some partly submerged in the water. These lizards have adapted to a life in the water, and dive down to eat algae on the seabed and then try to warm up by sunning themselves on the rocks. They are ugly creatures but also cute.


An American oystercatcher. Afterwards we returned to the ship and then went snorkelling off the beach. Snorkelling every day was one of the highlights of the Galapagos trip and we saw a huge array of various fish plus other creatures in the water.


While we had lunch the ship sailed to Rabida Island where we did another shore excursion during the afternoon.


We landed on a red sand beach and wandered below steep red, cliffs that were composed of many layers of compacted ash that was gradually eroding. Along the beach we saw Galapagos fur seals, lava lizards and marine iguannas, and in the lagoon behind the beach we saw some flamingoes.


The M.Y. San Jose. This boat held 16 passengers and had a crew of 9. It was a comfortable boat and the meals onboard were excellent throughout the trip.


The following day we went ashore on Bartolome Island and climbed a boardwalk to the summit of this volcanic island.


From the lookout at the top we had a great view of Pinnacle Rock below and Santiago Island beyond.


Bartolome Island is a moonscape full of craters and old lava flows.


A Galapagos penguin near Pinnacle Rock. Most penguins live in the Southern Ocean and the Antarctic but these ones were living on the equator. The cold Humboldt current flowing north from the Antarctic cools the waters around the Galapagos Islands allowing penguins and seals to survive here.


We went snorkelling around the base of Pinnacle Rock and saw a few penguins in the water.


The marine life below Pinnacle Rock.


In the afternoon we went ashore at Sullivan Cove on nearby Santiago Island. This is the site of a huge lava field from an eruption that occurred in 1895. The surface consisted of ropey (pahoehoe) lava that had formed amazing patterns everywhere. This is one of the wierdest and most fascinating landscapes I have seen.


Close-up of the pahoehoe lava.


The next day was spent on Santa Cruz Island. At the town of Puerto Ayora we went ashore and visited the Charles Darwin Research Station, set up to help conserve the Galapagos environment and wildlife.


At the Research Station we visited enclosures containing young and older giant tortoises, which are bred here away from any threats, then returned to other islands when they get bigger. The breeding program has been a big success and the survival rate of the returned tortoises is good.


Lonesome George is the last of his species, the only known living tortoise from Pinta Island. He was discovered there in 1971 and has been living in an enclosure at the Charles Darwin Research Station ever since. (P.S. - George died in June 2012!)


Close-up of a giant tortoise.


Land iguannas are also bred at the Charles Darwin Research Station.


The fish market in Puerto Ayora was being taken over by pelicans and sea lions!


In the afternoon we drove up into the highlands of Santa Cruz Island and visited a farm to see wild giant tortoises, which come onto the farm from the national park.


We then drove a short distance from the farm and descended into a giant lava tube which ran underground for a few kilometres.


Overnight our boat travelled to San Cristobal Island and during the morning we sailed past Kicker (Sleeping Lion) Rock, which had numerous birds flying around it, includings shearwaters, Nazca boobies and frigatebirds.


We went ashore on a beautiful white sand beach on San Cristobal Island where we saw pelicans, boobies and sea lions, then went snorkelling.


Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is the capital of the Galapagos Islands. While here we visited the Galapagos National Park Interpretation Centre then did a walk up to Frigatebird Hill for great views of the surrounding area.


A statue of Charles Darwin, commemorating his visit to this island in 1835.


The foreshore of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno was being taken over by sea lions. We saw sea lions resting on park benches, under parked cars, on the beach and swimming in the harbour.


Espanola Island is in the far southeast of the archipelago and one of the oldest islands. We visited Gardner Bay with its white sand beach and numerous sea lions sprawled out over the sand.


A sea lion sound asleep.


The marine iguannas on Espanola Island have a reddish colour to their skin.


In the afternoon we visited Punta Suarez on the western part of the island, and did a three hour walk around a rocky trail for more wildlife viewing. There were many different types of birds in this area, including the Nazca Booby.


A blue-footed booby. More sexual activity renders their feet lighter blue whilst those with abstinence have deeper blue feet.


Close up of the feet of a blue-footed booby.


A blow hole on the western shore of Espanola Island.


A Waved Albatross nesting on Espanola Island. This is the only known nesting site for these birds. We watched a few albatrosses in a courting ritual, and it was good to compare this with the wandering albatrosses I previously saw on South Georgia.


Waved Albatross.


Anchored off Post Office Bay at Floreana Island, where we spent our last full day in the Galapagos.


Opuntia cactus and lava shoreline near Post Office Bay.


Lava Heron.


At Post Office Bay whalers in the 18th Century used a barrel behind the beach as an unofficial mail drop. Our group continued the tradition by placing some postcards in the barrel, and collecting any that were addressed to people in our own country so that we could hand deliver them to the addressee.


View of Post Office Bay. After checking the barrel we headed further inland and went down into another lava tunnel.


A white tipped reef shark in the water off Post Office Bay.


Sea Turtle.


During the late morning our boat headed to Champion Rock where we did a second snorkel for the day. There were numerous sea lions along the shore and in the water and we snorkelled amongst them for about 30 minutes. The sea lions inspected us and swam all around us at close range. This was one of the best highlights of the trip.


Fish in the waters at Champion Rock.


Being inspected by a Sea Lion.


The afternoon was spent at Punta Cormorant. Behind the beach was a lake that contained a few pink flamingoes.


A Sally Lightfoot Crab. These brightly coloured crabs are on all the beaches and stand out against the black rocks.


Before we flew back to the mainland on the following day, we visited North Seymour Island. This small island contains large numbers of nesting birds, including blue footed boobies and magnificent frigatebirds. The male frigatebirds inflate large red coloured sacs under their beak in order to attract females.


Opuntia cactus. The Galapagos Islands have a dry climate and this plant is common all the islands.

Contact "alanlevy at pcug dot org dot au" for more information.

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