Galápagos cruise, day 4

Sunday 14th January

Awoke about 6:30. Buffet breakfast at 7:00 included cereals, pancakes and fried eggs, toast and fruit.

By 8:00 we had been transferred in the pangas to the shore for a walk up to see Darwin Lake initially

before hiking further up to a viewpoint over the volcanic plain. Many dormant trees waiting for rain to come could be seen, and the odd other plant, but the terrain was very dry. On our return the zodiacs returned us to the boat. We split into three groups next- snorkellers, panga riders and kayaking, which Karen and I did in a double kayak,

as did Jim and Mary plus Stephanie and Abby took the two single kayaks. We followed the shoreline, seeing sea lions, sea turtles and lots of crabs and the odd small iguana on the rocks. Once we reached the point of the small inlet we turned back. For morning tea we were served a drink and corn chips with dip. Next a quick turnover for another opportunity to snorkel. Karen went but I decided to stay and type some blog and relax.

Buffet lunch back on the boat at 12:00. After lunch the Archipel II begins its navigation northwards and around to Espinosa Point on the north of Fernandina island. On arrival we use the pangas to go ashore. On the boardwalk we spot a Galápagos hawk high up in a tree. The landscape is a mix of sand and black lava flows. After nearly stepping on an iguana and a sleeping sea lion as we follow the path we spot a second Galápagos hawk on the beach who is happy to pose for photos. Next we come to a small enclosed sea water pool where a group of juvenile sea lions are frolicking. Most entertaining! Following the trail we pass many iguanas sunning themselves,

scrambling crabs, both red and black, plus more seals using the incoming waves as their playground.

There were even a couple of pups feeding from their mums lolling on the sand. Again a stunning natural show from all. We made our way back to the landing only to find another Galápagos hawk in an adjacent tree perched low enough for easy photographing. On the final approach to the Archipel II our driver took the zodiac beneath the middle of the catamaran – bit of fun as we ducked on the way through. Back on board we rested while the catamaran began its journey to the top of the island of Isabella.

About 17:30 the bell rings. We had been expecting it to ring at 18:00 for our briefing and an early dinner. As it turned out Luis and Mildred had arranged a celebratory drink to mark our passing over of the equator. As we went on deck at the front of the the Archipel we had a view of the amazing Equador Volcano

as we toasted each other.

Each of us was presented with a certificate by a crew member. On it was our name and our Galápagos nickname. Each of us was required to perform according to our nickname. I was Albatross and Karen was a Frigate bird so not too hard. Thank goodness we weren’t an iguana. The proceedings concluded with a group photo.

Our final briefing and buffet dinner followed soon after. The boat continued moving the whole time as we had a very long navigation in order to be at Baltra in the morning by about 7:30. After dinner I watched a bit of a Galápagos documentary before we retired to our cabin.   As we turned past the top of Isabella the waves became higher and the rocking motion was very strong so we took a sea sick tablet to play it safe. As it turned out this was a very good move as the steepness of the waves increased even further! Finally we fell asleep.

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