Saturday, July 6, 2024

Galápagos Diary, Day 3

Day 3, April 14: Don’t forget to preheat your camera!

Today I made a classic rookie mistake, taking my camera from my air-conditioned cabin into the moist tropical heat without giving it enough time to acclimate. My punishment was losing about a half hour of shooting time because of condensation on the lens.

Boarding the panga at sunrise

I hope we can find some iguanas here!

No iguanas yet, but I'll keep looking.

At sunrise we made the first of today’s two wet landings on Santiago Island. At Puerto Egas we had a hike that started on a black sand beach, crossed fields of lava along the shore, and looped inland back to the beach. In cooler weather this would have been a pleasant hike, but in the tropical heat it was a real ass-kicker. We were rewarded for our efforts by iguanas, lava lizards, hawks, herons, shorebirds, doves, finches, sea lions, and fur seals. 

American Oystercatchers, Marine Iguana, and Sally Lightfoot Crabs

Lava Heron

Lava Lizard

One thing I’ve noticed about all tours is they tend to exaggerate the dangers and discomforts, probably because they need to keep everyone safe and don’t really know anyone’s level of experience or common sense. For this morning’s hike we were told we could go barefoot on the beach but would need solid, closed-toe hiking shoes for the lava areas, to protect our feet from sharp edges and uneven surfaces. On the lava both Tui and Monica were often barefoot, though they did wear shoes for part of the hike.

A curious Galápagos Sea Lion

In the afternoon we had a panga ride in Buccaneer Cove. Monica told us we might see elephants, rhinos, dogs, and monks here. And we did see them! The Monk, The Elephant, The Dog, and The Rhinoceros are eroded rock formations around the cove, and it’s easy to see how they got their names. From the panga we photographed land iguanas high up on the cliffs, nesting noddies, gulls, boobies, and herons.

The Monk

Our next location was Playa Espumilla, a beautiful beach with gold-toned sand. This time I was barefoot. A very cooperative Galápagos Hawk posed for us in a tree, and we found a second one eating a big fish on the beach. Ghost Crabs popped up from their holes in the sand and quickly disappeared again, while pelicans and boobies dove for fish just offshore.

Ghost Crab

Lava Lizard

Galápagos Hawk with dinner

At sunset I was the last one back to the panga because I was lingering with a sea turtle that wanted to come ashore. It was most likely waiting until after dark, when it's safer to dig a nest and lay eggs.

Galápagos Green Turtle

Day 2: We meet some new species

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