Sunday, 23 February 2014

Santiago island

There are 13 major islands and 6 smaller ones as well as numerous islets. I was surprised to learn that 5 of the islands are inhabited with most islanders living on Santa Cruz or San Cristobel. The islands often have 2 or more names making it a little confusing  but the Ecuadorian Government has allocated official names which most guide books adhere to.

As the islands lie on the Equator, the sun rises at 6.30am and sets at 6.30pm. On my 4th day on the boat I rose with the sun and took advantage of a seemingly empty boat as the other passengers were still asleep in their cabins.

This is the top deck with its sun loungers which we used mainly for gazing at the stars at night and admiring the constellations. Usually making up names for them as no-one seemed to be that familiar with the Southern Constellations.
This is the lounge, used for our evening briefings and socialising.

The bar and dining room. The boat had a maximum capacity for 20 passengers. Jose the waiter cum bartender was excellent at the cocktails!

This morning we left the boat for Santiago Island (also known as James or San Salvador). Here there is a long black lava shore line with lots of tidal pools full of wild life.

Here is a marine iguana just about to enter the sea.

Here is another iguana out at sea. They seldom go more than 50m out although we did have one swimming around the boat when we were much further than that from the shore.

A whimbrel with the bright red Sally Lightfoot crab nearby and a marine iguana in the foreground.

Another iguana looking for some tasty algae on the rocks.

It was very hot so no-one minded getting a little wet.

Struggling to get up onto the rocks.

A yellow-crowned night heron still fast asleep.

Notice the black travel bands on my wrists. My travel sickness can overwhelm me at times but I have found travel bands to be my saviour. They work by pressing on the acupuncture points on the wrists. I wore them all the time whilst on the Galapagos. So much so. I returned with two white stripes looking as though I had been wearing hand cuffs for the previous couple of  weeks.

A striated heron which loves the rocky shore line with its abundance of food.

A lava lizard

More Galapagos hawks. this time one of them is feasting on a marine iguana whilst 3 others wait in line for the leftovers.

A shady spot for the sea lions.

 This was a real find. Someone thought they saw something moving between two rocks and when I got closer I saw this striped Galapagos snake. It is a constrictor and only found on 5 of these islands. It is a small snake, only growing to about 60cm and feeds on the lava lizards or young marine iguanas.
 On a nearby rock we saw its skin which had been recently shed.

When we returned to the beach we donned our swimming and snorkelling gear and went for a look at life below the waves. I don't have an underwater camera but I put my point and shoot into an aqua pac and shot hundreds of photos of which some actually came out OK.

I do not know the names of the fish we saw but did recognise this turtle as it swam around us.

The waters around the islands are teeming with fish and we were lucky enough to snorkel with sea lions, turtles, penguins and even sharks. There is a large fishing exclusion zone around the Galapagos. I believe that only the Great Barrier Reef has a larger exclusion zone and as a consequence there is no shortage of wonderful sights underwater.

After lunch we were out snorkelling again and went into a cave which I found a little spooky for snorkelling. The water was  a bit cold as it was also the deepest water in which we had snorkelled.

Once we had dried off we went by dinghy to a small island to see where the turtles nest. On the way there we saw many turtles in the water but it was difficult to photo them from the moving dinghy. Although impossible to see, this photo was taken of two turtles mating.

For the first time, we were caught out in a tropical down pour. We were on the island but the rain was so heavy I didn't bother to get my camera wet. The mosquitos also appeared to have a few bites of me for dinner. Where was my insect repellent and waterproofs? On the boat, of course!

The evening was spent enjoying a few drinks and sharing photos.


  1. Your underwater pictures are fabulous. I am actually surprised at how good they are. You reminded me of my own awful bout with diarrhea in the islands. It was pretty awful. Never heard of those wrist things before.

  2. Another amazing day! You really have taken some good photos.
    Do the travel bands work for you? I rely on Bonine but have been tempted to try the bands.

  3. Wonderful wildlife shots! What a trip! thanks for sharing your adventures with us.

  4. Love the photos, looks like your having fun

  5. Love to read your journal, an amazing travel and beautiful photos.

  6. It looks so much fun but a bit tiring too. So much wildlife to see.

  7. This has been an amazing tour... thanks for sharing the wonderful wildlife. A small ship is just ideal !~


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