Our first landing was in Tagus Cove on Isabela Island, where the landing area was covered in old graffiti (name and year) from before it was declared a national park. We walked past Darwin Lake, a beautiful but dead brackish lake. We walked up to a viewpoint, but there was not much to see on the way. The island was very dry, and we mainly saw small birds, a few lizards and some grasshoppers. On the way back to the boat we sailed along the shore, and saw several golden rays, two sea turtles mating a meter from the boat, a sea-lion and several large birds. The penguins that lives there was nowhere to be found though. A bit later we snorkelled in the same area, and we could definitly feel the cold stream the penguins like. The visibility was not very good, but we still saw a couple of sea turtles and quite a bit of fish.
In the afternoon we went ashore at Punta Espindza on Fernandina Island. We were welcomed by a lot of jumping fish and a Galapagos hawk. This place was above all expectations. We knew there was a colony of marine iguanas, but didn’t expect thousands of them. They were literary everywhere, often in large groups very close to and often on top of each other. You really needed to watch your step here. In between all the iguanas, there were also a few sea lions, some lizards, sea turtles, birds (Galapagos dove, Oyster catcher etc) and another whale skeleton. We spent a lot of time watching three young sea lions play around in the sand and shallow waters, rolling in the sand and doing acrobatics in the water. On the way back we saw two more hawks, and the first one had bitten the head off a baby iguana and was flying around holding it in his claws. Probably the best site visited so far!
In the evening there was a lot of activity around the boat, but it was difficult to see anything in the dark. Several people found flashlights, which seemed to attract even more sea life. Since the flashlights worked best close to the water, we ended the evening hanging out of our cabin windows watching huge turtles, squids, fish and even a sea-lion catching and eating a sea snake. Really fun!
After an early breakfast we went to Urbina bay at Isabela Island, and finally we found lots of penguins. They were swimming around the boat and a few were standing on land drying in the wind. We went for a walk and passed a young tortoise laying in the middle of the path. It had 14 “rings” on it’s carapace (shell), which means it was 14 years old. We also saw a carapace of a dead tortoise about the same size in addition to several large land iguanas, lots of birds as always and another tortoise eating poisonous (not to them) apples from a tree.
We were quite eager to get back to the beach to snorkle, hoping the penguins were still there. Luckily they were, and they were swimming all around us when we got in the water. We were really surprised by how fast they were moving in the water. One of the videos we recorded looks like fast forward. Crazy! We also saw a gigantic sea turtle. Gunnhild was swimming above it, and was clearly the shortest one of the two. Out in the deeper parts of the bay we found more sea turtles, and a very curious sea-lion also came to check us out (or just to show off it’s swimming skills). On the way back to shore we saw two large lobsters and even more penguins. What a great experience!
In the afternoon we did some more whale watching while sailing to Elizabeth bay (Isabela island). Still no whales, but plenty of turtles. After lunch we took a dingy ride into the mangrove forest. Some of the mangroves are actually like big trees, close to 10 meters high. Never seen anything like it! There were penguins, turtles, fish and sea lions swimming around, and large pelicans and other birds sitting in the mangroves. In this area the sea lions actually sleep in trees, on large branches in the mangrove forest. Lots of penguins and cormorants were relaxing on a tiny islet we passed on our way back. In the evening we gathered on the sun deck to see the beautiful sunset.
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