Discover Galapagos - A travel guide to Galapagos cruises, tours, boats and yacht charters

Galapagos Islands tours - fun for the whole family!



A travel guide to Galapagos tours, boats, cruises & yacht charters

"The end of the year and the beginning of the next, and on and on... time loses meaning here. It's a full moon. In a dream I remember sitting on the deck of a ship in my place under the sun. I was captain of that ship today. Sailing from Santa Fe to Plazas in some kind of surrealistic flash...

The light on Gordon Rocks revealed this dream to me, where the reality of the moment faded away across the grayness of the rocks into the ocean where Gordon Rocks shone with an apparent inner illumination radiating across the depths of the collective subconscious. 

The big-bull-macho sea lion speaks and preaches in the nights bright light full moon. An ominous Om pervades my auditory sense of reality. Eternity crosses the boundary and I slip into a frontier of stimulation. The clock ticks 10:17 P.M. The young sea lions 2 days old baaa in the night. The bulls bark incessantly territorial. The clouds move silently across the moon as the waves rock the boat gently like we are babies in a cradle.

The Eye of a Hawk
Jeff Waugh
The Eye of a Hawk
 

This morning I stared eye to eye with a hawk - mesmerized. Hypnotized by Nature. The ripples on the water. Concentric rings of a pebble dropped in water. The source of knowledge. The eye of a hawk. Vitreous humour. We became one another staring into the reflections of ourselves in the eyes of each other."

- My journal

 

Map of Plaza Island, Galapagos The journey to Plaza is made in a few hours through lunch and our siesta. Before cruising into the naturally protected harbour between North and South Plazas we circumnavigate Gordon Rocks for a look at Fur Seals and cliff hanging Blue-footed Boobies.

The first thing we see and hear are the multitude of sea lions spread out along the shore on both sides of us. They are diving into the water and seem to be swimming out to greet us. We anchor off shore, get our snorkeling gear on and are into the water before you know it. We swim with them over to North Plaza and begin to play with the females and young males there. It is also a good place to watch fish.

After an hour of snorkeling we are back to our boat for cold drinks, into our panga and to the landing site. This particular landing is usually used by the bull as his centre of operations, and it can be a dangerous landing. Our guide alerts us to the potential problem and we are careful of the bull as we disembark.

As we make our way through the sea lions and gather at the trail head we realize we have been watched by a group of Land Iguanas sitting in the shade under one of the Opuntia trees. They certainly are much more brightly coloured than the one we saw (the Barrington Land Iguana) on Santa Fe. 

Eye to eye with Nature...
Jeff Waugh
Eye to Eye with Nature...

 

Land Iguana eating cactus pad and spines, South Plaza Island, Galapagos
Jeff Waugh Spines and all...

Land Iguana, South Plaza Island, Galapagos
Jeff Waugh
Land Iguana
They are devouring a cactus pad, spines and all. We are amazed at what we see. Another has plucked an Opuntia fruit from the tree and swallows it whole. Have you ever tried to peel a prickly pear? Those little spines are very annoying, and I can't imagine how it must feel to swallow the large ones. But no problem for these iguanas. They appear not to be bothered by the large or small spines.
Red-billed Tropicbird, South Plaza Island, Galapagos
Jeff Waugh
Red-billed Tropicbird

We walk up the trail through the Sesuvium plants to the top of the cliff looking south. Four Red-billed Tropicbirds are chattering and flying by, long white tails flapping in the wind. These birds nest along the cliff. Below us on the cliff are a pair of nesting Swallow-tailed gulls and alongside side them a gray chick. Audubons Shearwaters, Band-rumped Storm Petrels, and Brown Noddies also nest along the cliffs of South Plaza.

 

The view from South Plaza to Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos
Jeff Waugh
Santa Cruz Island from Plaza
As we stroll along the cliff we feel a slight breeze that may be indicating the return of the southeast trades. In November the breeze can be fairly strong and seem cool. The southeast trades push the cold Humbolt Current into Galapagos from the south and move the intertropical conversion zone further north. By the end of December or beginning of January the northeast trades pick up and push the warm California Current to the south.

During the rainy or hot season in Galapagos (from January to April) the intertropical conversion zone is further south than other months of the year. In April or May the southeast trades increase and bring the cooler Humbolt Current to Galapagos. Cooler ocean temperatures mean more fish and more food for the sea birds. More food means its a good time to breed and raise young. Most of the sea birds are more active in their breeding colonies from May to November or December.

 


On the cliff ledge up ahead is a large bull sea lion. We don't really have to worry too much about him as this is a bachelor colony. The males here are not as aggressive as they can be when they are defending their territory with its cows. The rocks are polished smooth from the number of sea lions that have slid belly-on-the-ground over the rocks. It is a short walk along the cliff but we take lots of time to enjoy and observe. We find ourselves (like the sea lions) together in a group sitting on the rocks enjoying a relaxing time.

 

Bull sea lion at the bachelor colony, South Plaza Island, Galapagos
Jeff Waugh
At the bachelor colony

We are there long enough to see the sun start to set over Santa Cruz to our west and scurry down the trail through the green Portulaca with its yellow flowers. A Land Iguana is in the middle of it all, slowly picking each flower he comes across and sliding it down his throat after only slightly chewing it. He can barely move he is so fat. Well, he had better enjoy it while he can - the cool and dry season is coming to Plaza and Galapagos. In the dry season it is a very different picture although the iguanas still have plenty of cactus to feed on.

Galapagos Guide Pepe Salcedo, South Plaza Island, Galapagos
Jeff Waugh
Along the trail...

We wander back along the loop trail through more Sea Lions and Land Iguanas to the landing where our big bull is still standing guard over his territory. We carefully move around him and board the panga. As we motor back to the boat the sea lions porpoise after us as if to say "hey don't go let's play some more".

We will be anchored here all night. Most of us stay up late and out on deck to talk and enjoy our last evening in Galapagos together. It's a beautiful night with stars twinkling bright. In the morning we are up before sunrise to watch the sun rise like an orange ball out of the ocean to a chorus of sea lion sounds.

After breakfast we start the engines and are cruising out of the harbour...

To Baltra

 

 

GALAPAGOS CRUISES

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GALAPAGOS GUIDED TOUR

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Floreana
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Family Travel Planner
Adventures of Little Miss Chievous
Evan's Ecuador, Peru & Bolivia 2000
Evan's Ecuador 1998

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Evan with Galapagos Tortoise

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Marine Iguana

 

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