May 23rd: Santa Cruz-ing

This morning we got a wake-up call bright and early at 5:15, in order to leave the hotel by 6:00am for our flight to the Galapagos. We first had to pass through customs and have our bags inspected to insure no invasive species would be introduced.  From there we had a relatively quick flight compared to the others and landed on the island of Baltra in the Galapagos! There we were greeted by our knowledgeable guide Victor. From the airport, we boarded a bus full of children, who quickly became very fond of Zane, and then headed to the dock to be picked up by our zodiacs. While there, we saw some pelicans, Galapagos storm petrels, and a crowd favorite Sally lightfoot crabs. The zodiacs took us out to the yacht the M/Y Floreana. From there we saw some magnificent frigate birds and spied a sea lion chilling on a partially sunken vessel.

After a good lunch, we went onto the island of Santa Cruz in pursuit of Galapagos Giant Tortoises. “Tort watch 2013” was a massive success with us seeing at least 6 tortoises, some that were very large. There were a number of smaller bird species, as well as multiple fruit trees seen on the hike. A few unfortunate run ins with fire ants also occurred. In addition to that hike, we went on an adventures through lava tunnels. At the end of the tunnel was Rancho el Chato, where some glorious Coca Colas and sweet bananas were consumed and some comfy hammocks were much appreciated.

On the bus ride back to the dock, we stopped at a very large crater that was 80 meters deep.  While waiting for the boats to arrive we got to see a marbled sting ray and a white tip reef shark. Unfortunately we also witnessed a pelican struggling with swallowing some litter. After dinner we once again went to bed remarkably early for college kids and the boat headed off to our next destination.

Quote of the day: “You are all going to end up in Ecuadorian prison.”

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