Galápagos Islands

16 December 2019

A couple of the famed Galápagos blue-footed boobies; like most creatures here, they are naively unafraid of humans.
Decades ago I visited the Galápagos Islands on a little budget catamaran with a dozen people. But this year I decided to return when I got a good price on a nice Silversea cruise (with 90 other guests this time).

This time: Far better ship and better food, but once again had outstanding snorkeling, good fellow passengers, pleasant weather, and fascinating, fearless animals.

With Canadians Annelie and Ettiene at my favorite beach:
Bahia Gardner Beach on the island of Española. 

Blue-footed Boobies; red-footed boobie; and swallow-tail gull with chick

Male Galápagos Magnificent Frigates puff up their chest to attract a mate.

A Galápagos hawk and an unafraid baby sea lion exchange glances. 

It was not exactly mating season but that did not stop a few couples.

The giant tortoises were a prehistoric sight to behold, especially when "racing" to lunch. 

Speaking of prehistoric, iguana look like mini-dinosaurs too.
Top left shows a tourist's feet to help you gauge the reptile's size.
Golden land iguana looked less demonic than the black
(sometimes reddish and green) marine iguana.

Loved the bright red Sally Lightfoot crabs
(seriously, that is their official name).

Snorkeling with sea lions is a blast but can be unnerving when one suddenly races past you just inches away. 

Our Zodiac transport from ship to shore.

Exceptional Ecuadorian naturalists were outstanding guides;
with Christian (top); and with great fellow travelers Joe and Louisa (bottom)

Spent a few days in Quito before flying on to the islands. Quito's colonial old town is enormous with outstanding restaurants, dramatic streets, and of course grand Catholic churches.

Thoroughly enjoyed the return to these islands.
Wonderful week cruising around the Galápagos once again and enjoyed the extra days exploring Quito. It did seem as if the endemic animals were slightly less plentiful than I recalled from my previous visit but we still got to see most of the famous creatures.

Although Ecuador has made a serious effort to be a good steward of its treasure, the population in Santa Cruz and San Cristobal has soared. And, not surprisingly, the islands also had quite a few more tourists than I encountered in the 1980s. But then, as Sir David Attenborough once said, "Without tourism, the Galápagos would not exist."