Eastern Islands, Galapagos, Ecuador

Greedy to experience as much of Galapagos as possible we booked for a second boat cruise right after our first. This time aboard the Santa Cruz, a larger boat holding 90 guests for 5 days. This would take us out to the older islands on the eastern side of Galapagos.

Me, after the buffet breakfast

Our 5 day itinerary aboard the Santa Cruz

The islands on the east of Galapagos are the oldest. The volcanoes have stopped erupting, the landscape is showing more advanced signs of erosion and the animals are well established. 

We were able to land on Rabida, an interesting red island that we had only seen from the ocean while aboard the Angelito. Then Santiago, Genovesa and finally San Cristobal where we had changed our flight to leave from. The only island we would not see in Galapagos would be Espanola.

Genovesa is an amazing island covered with bird life. Here we saw our first red footed boobies and finally got to see frigate birds with their large red bills inflated. They use them as pillows to rest their heads on when not attracting a mate and look like they could pop them with their beaks during a sneeze.

The frigate birds puff a bright red pouch of skin full of air to attract a female to their nest. Shannan gave some of the less endowed birds an inferiority complex by remarking (loud enough for them to hear) that they would never attract anything. The ones that did put on an amazing courtship display involving wings wide and dancing with their red puffs bouncing around. Their warble was similar to a turkey gobble.

The feet of the red footed boobies is coloured by the food they eat. The red footed boobies, a distinct species from the blue footed variety, nest inland and commute each day to distant food sources. These birds are very large and have some disturbing social habits where murder and rape are common place.

Once again, snorkelling provided eyeopening experiences. This side of the archipelago the sharks seemed bigger and more numerous. One expedition ended early when Shannan declared shed had enough after twice being sandwiched between a huge galpapos shark and a large pack of yellow eagle rays. It is a bit unnerving when something much larger than you sidles up alongside, no matter how well fed and disinterested it looks!

Back aboard the Santa Cruz we had an assortment of activities as we moved to our next location. The top deck had areas for sun tanning (good for Shan who is frantically tying to even out unfortunate sock and bather lines in time for Rasha and Bens wedding!) and a bar with shade and ice water (good for me). Books were read with the tropical islands floating past. The Santa Cruz also had a jacuzzi which I made a point of getting into at 10pm on our last night when I realised we hadn't even looked at it yet.

Our Captain treated us to a night of singing. La Bamba finale!

Our captain treated us to a night of latin american classics. Que Ses Quie Sas and La Bamba being highlights. I was conscripted at some point in the night to play the part of a boobie on stage, much to Shannan's delight.

We befriended some Australians who were also traveling around the continent and spent one night shining their torch over the side of the boat to illuminate the fish. Life just teems in Galapagos, absolutely everywhere. It really is amazing. Just over the side were sharks, sea lions, flying fish (delta winged!) and sea turtles. Unfortunately we may have ruined the night for a poor flying fish when it suddenly found itself well lit and a nearby sea lion gave chase. Oops.

Giant Tortoise eating breakfast at the bus terminal on the way to board the Santa Cruz. A normal day in Galapagos.