Attenborough Eat Your Heart Out

08.05.17 – 19.05.17

Galapagos, where to start… home to some of the most rare and bizarre creatures on the planet. What an incredible experience.

A Bumpy Beginning 

There are 3 main islands in the Galapagos that you are allowed to visit without a guide; Isabela, Santa Cruz and San Cristobal. We had initially chosen to visit Isabela as it’s the largest, has the smallest population and apparently is less touristy. Unfortunately due to our useless agent (supposedly there to organise everything), we turned up at Isabela and were sent away immediately as the paperwork had not been completed correctly. 

But we were greeted by the real owners of Galapagos!

We headed to the ‘touristy’ Santa Cruz down heartened and a little apprehensive… 

Santa Cruz
09.05.17: On arrival we took our first steps on land after 10 days and I must say I didn’t feel wobbly at all! We walked the bustling streets – packed with restaurants, tourist tat shops, pick up trucks and people.

I felt a bit like this guy…

Underwhelmed and disappointed probably best described my feelings… do not fear, this did not last for long! 

Surfing Addict 

We got up early, excited for a full day out at Tortuga Bay. After a 30 minute walk, we were faced with row upon row of white crashing waves along a huge sandy beach, perfect.

Surfing time! One after the other we gave it a go. 
Thankfully our resident Australian gave us some tips… Although I’m not sure he could actually stand up himself… 

A spot of surfing was just what the doctor ordered. It was so much fun! I have surfed before in the freezing English summer but this was something else – WARM crystal clear water. 

12.05.17: A couple of days later we couldn’t resist and headed back to Tortuga. This time I stood up 3 times! I will master you.
14.05.17: Surfing again… Can now stand up on the shore break AKA the small ones at the front. 

The Fin Chop

Mark took me to the huge waves at the back, these were a different ball game! After paddling out there, which took lots of effort, I lay on my board waiting for the ‘perfect’ wave… “This one, this one” I questioned Mark on multiple occasions, he wasn’t convinced. Then I saw a ginormous one brewing on the horizon, I knew this was the one. I turned round, got in position and yelled to Mark “this is the oneeeeee” as I got lifted into the air on top of the wave at the speed of lightning. Too scared to make a sound I no longer had control of the board and I definitely did not have my weight in the right position… within seconds I face planted off the front of the wave, went through the washing machine and came out the other side with a war wound… A Fin Chop. Apparently only hard core surfers get them. I paddled back to Mark with a huge grin on my face, which I think was fear, wondering why he didn’t catch it. He looked astounded, “Holy heck, that was a huge dumper!! I wasn’t gonna catch that!” 

Despite the fact I swallowed my body weight in sea water, I am officially a surfing addict.  

A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words

11.05.17: We hired bikes, hoping for a gentle ride to visit the Giant Tortoises…. I think we all underestimated the gradient and length of the ride. 40km round trip. Doesn’t sound long but the hills! (Lack of exercise living on a boat definitely didn’t help the situation.)

Tortoise warning sign! Is it wrong I wanted to see one crossing the road?
‘FAST IS BEAUTIFUL’ ay Jess? Bit harsh on the Tortoise!

They were pretty huge.

They were also VERY slow… (video below)

We saw Giant Tortoises at a sanctuary which was pretty amazing as I’d never seen one before (obviously). But the following day Jess and I hired bikes again and cycled down from the Highlands and… 
… saw a wild one on the side of the road and that was a very strange experience!
Even the Finch’s are friendly.

Facing Fears

15.05.17: Diving at Cristobal

I learnt to Scuba Dive at a quarry in the Lake District, in murky water with zero fish and freezing conditions (as you do in England). During one of these dives I experienced cold shock and had to do an emergency ascent. After this I have always been a tad (a lot) apprehensive, yet I had signed up to go Scuba Diving at Kicker Rock and I was shitting myself. Don’t even get me started on the Hammerhead Sharks!!

The night before I couldn’t sleep with worry… On the boat I was panicky… Once in the water I was ready!
On the 20m down, my excitement was building, and my ears were equalising. 

Then I saw these…

And I was BUZZINNNN
Then the instructor pointed this out… Not as interesting until you realise there is a Stone Fish right there!

And some more of these…

We saw packs of White Tip sharks, Black Tip Sharks and Galapagos Sharks! They were huge but surprisingly they were scared of us! Incredibly I wasn’t scared at all. Even though we were surrounded by them, I didn’t see a Hammerhead…

Probably because Mark scared them off…
As we headed back, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face 😀

The day just got better as we arrived into San Cristobal as the sun set and were welcomed by the sound of…. (Press play and close your eyes – no it is not Spring and you are not in a field in Yorkshire!) 

I loved them.
Room for a little one?

Isabela 

We headed to Isabela, where we initially wanted to go, and yes it was nothing like Santa Cruz. It was a sleepy backpacker joint, no trading except hostels and restaurants. There were no locals busying the town, no hooting of cars, no waving at friends in the street – I realised I’d grown to love the hustle and bustle of Santa Cruz, it had a soul. 

17.05.17: We walked around the volcano crator which was quite large.
18.05.17: The next day the wildlife was still asleep as we went for our morning swim. 
On hunt for seal lions… No luck yet.
After, we cycled along the sea tracks and found…
Marine Iguanas everywhere!
And Blue Footed Boobies 😀

We spotted some seal lions playing in the waves. I went in, within seconds I was surrounded by 4 seal lions swirling around me! Twirling with their big black eyes and whiskers. I joined in. Kicking my flippers to keep up with the playful movement. They were so interactive, I can see why they are called the puppies of the sea. I couldn’t get enough of them, wish I had a ball to throw. 

Evening stroll, then back to San Cristobal we went.

Early Bird Catches the Worm 

19.05.17: 0600: Up early to be the first one to brake the glass water in this beautiful gorge….
Then the cavalry arrived…

After a bumpy introduction to the Galapagos, it all worked out for the best in the end. Things have a way of doing that. Most importantly the wildlife, it blew me away. I came away from Galapagos with a real appreciation for nature, land and sea creatures. Every landscape has its creatures. I never thought I’d go on a bike ride and cycle past a Giant Tortoise! A world away from squashed roadkill rabbits and getting stuck in a cow jams in Yorkshire. Scuba Diving at Kicker Rock was definitely a highlight of my time in Galapagos – if you face your fears, the rewards are even greater. 

Pigeon nailed it.

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