We have sailed overnight to Española Island. Each evening Daniel gives us a briefing of what to expect the next day and what we will need. He was previously an art teacher so we are treated each day to drawings to match what we will get with our programme. It is the cool, windy season at the Galapagos – not so good for the swimming but good for walking. This morning is grey and overcast but we are keen to have our first real exposure to wildlife on the islands. We board our rubber dinghies and head first to Punta Suarez.
Each season brings its own bonuses and we are at just the right time to see all the baby animals. Our first stop is a kindergarten bay for young sea-lion pups. They are all clustered together with just a few females supervising them while they sleep and practise swimming. We also get our first exposure to the marine iguanas in their gaudy breeding colours, all crowded together soaking up whatever warmth they can get. The brightly coloured Sally Lightfoot crabs scuttled around the rocks interspersed with other birds and crabs that blended in with the rocks.
As a biologist, I was really excited to be observing Galapagos finches first hand and feeling a connection to Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution. Although I had a guide to the birds of Galapagos, I was really struggling to identify the finches: that one is on the ground – it must be a medium ground finch but there is one over there on the cactus as well, perhaps it is a cactus finch…. Even if I couldn’t identify them all I could certainly appreciate the diversity of beak sizes and shapes and other ways they had adapted to their environment.
We walked across the island and were delighted to see albatross with chicks that were about 1 month old; blue footed boobies and Nazca boobies nesting and with chicks; Galapagos hawks, mocking birds, Galapagos doves with startling blue eyes, brown pelicans, lizards with bright red heads for breeding season. We were told that we were to stay 1-2 metres away from any wildlife but we quickly discovered that this was impossible because if you stepped back to be a metre away from one you would be standing on something else. The birds and animals were so unworried by humans that they would be nesting on the pathway and wouldn’t even flinch as you stepped over them. It was a photographer’s dream; we set our cameras to ‘burst’ settings and took hundreds of photos in just a few hours.
In the afternoon we visited Gardner Bay for another dose of sea-lion kindergarten cuteness and some snorkelling.
For similar trips see:
Peregrine Adventures Travel Destinations (Comfort and independent tours)
Geckos Adventures (for 18 to 30s)
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