Galápagos cruise, day 3

Saturday 13th January

I wake about 4:30. It appears we have finished our navigation and we are in another bay. I drift in and out of sleep until Karen wakes. We rise about 6:50 in time for another delicious buffet breakfast. At 8:00 we board the pangas (zodiacs) and head off for our first activity.

We have joined the group of nine doing a loop walk of the lava field. Two of the volcanoes on Isabella have erupted in the last few years. The different types of lava found range from rope lava

to sheets to brittle plates

to tiny rocks and stones. Amazingly there is already quite a variety of vegetation making its way up through gaps and cracks in the lava.

The other surprise is seeing some small caldera lakes as we go.

After about an hour our walk on this weird landscape is over. Time for some photos

before we reboard the pangas and join the other group for a panga wildlife ‘safari’ of the nearby area of mangroves and lava inlets and islands. We see much larger marine iguanas than yesterday,

flightless herons,

a few Galápagos penguins

and blue footed boobies and many red and black crabs, the odd pelican and lots of frolicking sea lions

plus some sea turtles. It’s a veritable wildlife parade. On our return to the Archipell II we have a quick morning tea before preparing for a snorkel.

Soon, about 3/4 of our group head off to a nearby rocky area. Before we even enter the water we see sea lions and turtles. The water is freezing on entry. Due to my poor swimming ability I am in a buoyancy vest again and Luis instructs me in the fine art of using the snorkel and mask to breathe better. I hang onto the ladder as he guides the panga around. This allows me to concentrate on the breathing rather than the swimming side of things. In the meantime we have seen turtles, schools of fish, flightless herons and the odd sea lion. Eventually I get the hang of it and snorkel for a while but after some time the water becomes too cold for a number of the group and we exit the water.

It’s a good thing as an aggressive flightless heron begins to chase and bite some of our group. Funny to watch but not so for those under attack. As time draws to an end everyone exits the water, even Karen, via the ladders attached to the zodiacs. We enjoy a snack,

a warm shower and change of clothes on our return. Buffet lunch follows. Lots of meat options. Dessert is delicious fruit salad. Next another afternoon snooze until 14:00. During the afternoon we travelled in two groups together in the zodiacs into the mangroves of Elizabeth Bay.

We saw the odd bird but we mainly saw sea turtles up close.

Luis talked about the ecology of the mangroves for a while then we returned to the catamaran mid afternoon as we had to do some late afternoon navigation to Tagus Bay where we will moor for the night. Along the way we observe an ever-changing landscape

and see a variety of seabirds – blue footed boobies, frigate birds

and pelicans. At one point a mass of pelicans appeared to have found a large school of fish as they were in a bit of a feeding frenzy.

Sunset wasn’t as spectacular as previous days but still a beautiful time of day to be at sea.

Most of our 18:30 briefing Luis spent time talking about his life and the way Ecuador has evolved, particularly the Galápagos. Buffet dinner at 19:00 with conversation to follow. In the lounge area we joined about half the group after dinner to watch a David Attenborough documentary about the Galápagos but Karen and I didn’t stay when a second film was started. We were a bit tired but it was hard to get to sleep due to pump engine noise. Also we had become used to going to sleep with the motion of the the catamaran in navigation mode and tonight we were moored. Finally slept.

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