Galapagos Islands 2015 Vacation (INCA Tours)

Day 4

May 9, 2015

Our day in (almost) painful detail

6:15am Up early.  This is our last day on Santa Cruz Island.  I am up and dressed and Barbara is headed in that direction.  I am sitting out on our little covered porch looking at clear blue skies and listening to the rain fall on the tent (there must have been clouds over the tent that I could not see).  Breakfast is at 7:30 this morning.  Breakfasts in Safari Camp are very good.  There are some foods out on a table, breads, rolls, juices, meats; but the eggs, waffles or French toast are cooked to order. 8:30am On the way to breakfast we see other members in our group looking at something just off the steps leading to the main lodge.  It is a smallish Galapagos tortoise digging in the dirt right next to the steps.  They think it is the same tortoise that had been hanging around Jenny & Julian’s tent for a couple of days.  Pretty neat!  After breakfast we take some photos of the tortoise and get our last minute look-sees and photos of the Galapagos Safari Camp. 10:30am We are now in Puerto Ayora.  We are all checked out of Galapagos Safari Camp and all our luggage is in on the bus with us.  Jenny, Julian, Allison & Craig are trying on rental wetsuits (we brought our own from home) while Barbara and I walked to town.  I looked at the fish market for photo ops and Barbara found a jewelry store with some nice stuff.  Unfortunately we never made it back to actually buy anything. 10:45am Just entered the Charles Darwin Research Center.  Mathias walks us around pointing out key items.  At this point we really aren’t in Research Center just walking in the area.  We see:  Welcome sign, carved pole “Re-Evolution Galapagos”, information about Mangrove trees, toxic tree warning, statue dedicated to Galapagos Park Rangers (Park Guards), Sally Lightfoot Crabs, Marine Iguanas, boats anchored in Academy Bay, Blue-footed Booby, Striated Heron, Galapagos Sea Lion, Brown Pelican and more. 11:10am Mathias uses a map/mural to explain Galapagos Island features.  We do some more walking around the Charles Darwin Research  Center.  We See: Lava Lizards, Galapagos Tortoise information, Galapagos Mockingbirds on cactus, Opuntia Cactus, Tortoise vs the Universe (read sign). 11:20am We reach the main part of the Charles Darwin Research Center.  We see:  Galapagos Cotton, an interesting mushroom, a statue of Charles Darwin sitting on a bench and we got some photos of some of the group with Charles Darwin, Galapagos Tortoises from tiny to HUGE. 11:43am Still walking around and we see:  Male Cactus Finch, Saddle-back Tortoise (the type the islands are actually named after), Lonesome George information, Land Iguana, Lava Lizards, Artists drawing/painting a Land Iguana. 12:45pm Left Charles Darwin Research Center.  I did a nice little walk through town while the rest of the group rode on the bus.  We met up at the docks and took a water taxi across the bay to the where some of the hotels are.  We are walking on a trail from the waterfront to restaurant where we will have lunch.  We are on Angermeyer Point, named after a family of early settlers to the area. 2:30pm We had a delicious lunch at the Finch Bay Eco Hotel.  During lunch we saw some Lava Gulls, a Great Blue Heron taking a dip and a bath in the hotel swimming pool and later, some White-cheeked Pintail Ducks went for a swim in the pool.  We are now headed back to the dock to be picked up by the crew of the Integrity in a panga (an inflatable boat that we would call a Zodiac) for our first look at our home for the next week. 3:10pm We are on the Luxury Yacht Integrity.  We got onboard about a half hour ago.  The ship is anchored fore and aft near the mouth of the harbor.  Richard (the INCA naturalist for the rest of our tour in the Galapagos Islands) gave us a quick talk.  Allison and Craig are taking the opportunity for a ride to the dock for some quick shopping and Barbara and I have decided to stay aboard and unpack and relax.  I won’t try to describe the living facilities as the photos will show much better than I ever could.  The one thing that will not be visible in the photos is the fact that the walls are padded.  I just have to wonder if that is normal for this type of vessel or do they get many “special” passengers? 5:30pm We are all gathered in the lounge area of the Integrity for our welcome briefing and Richard is talking to us. He talked about the park rules (see below), he gave a brief overview of the week and where we were going and what to expect, explained what the next day looked like for us, including a history lesson about Floreana Island, where we would visit (movie made about early settlers: Galapagos Affair – Satan Came to Eden), explained some things about snorkeling and his use of his GoPro, we performed the required life raft/life vest (PFD) drill.  Richard spoke for a little over an hour. The rules: – You may not collect anything.  No shells, feathers, anything at all.  It is allowed to pick stuff up to look at but it must be left where it was found. – No touching or petting any of the animals. – Stay on marked trails.  Trails are marked by short wooden posts painted black and white.  Must stay on the trails and do not venture anywhere not so marked.  Trails may route through breeding areas and just a couple of steps off the walk may mean stepping on a nest. – Do not carry any plant matter from island to island.  The park is trying very hard to keep the islands as pristine as possible and it can be too easy to carry invasive species seeds from one stop to the next.  Inhabited areas have many non-native species. – Shoes worn on shore are not to be worn on the ship.  Seeds brought from land on shoes that are then used around the ship could be spread to other items and then to other islands.  Shoes used ashore are to be dipped in the ocean (soles only), prior to getting into the panga, to remove major items (dirt, seeds) and then hosed off with fresh water hoses once back on the yacht. – No food is allowed on shore.  “The orange pit of today is the orange tree of the future”. – No smoking on any of the islands (except inhabited areas). - No graffiti. - Do not scare any animals off its resting/nesting area.  Eggs or chicks in direct sunlight will only last a few minutes. Just a general thought, not a rule, the trails are the destination.  No rush to get to the end of the trail to see something as the sights are all along the trail. Two types of island landings: wet or dry.  A dry landing you step from the panga onto a rock or dock.  A wet landing the panga is as close to shore as possible and each person will slide off the side, near the rear, of the panga into shallow water then wade to shore. Dress comfortable but be protected from the sun.  A wide brimmed hat is needed by most.  Shorts and t-shirts are fine as long as exposed skin is protected by sunblock.  Shoes will vary daily based on landing and trail types. 7:00pm Dinner.  Because there are only 6 passengers and Richard eating in the dining room we all fit at one table.  Nice because there is only one conversation.  The four Aussies had fish and Barbara, Richard and I had steak wrapped in bacon.  After dinner Barbara and I did a quick walk around the ship to see what we could see. 9:40pm We are in our little stateroom.  I can’t wait to see more of the islands.  We are headed for bed very soon.  Richard said he will do an announcement at 6am to wake us all up and expect breakfast about 6:30am.  We will stay anchored where we are until later so as to time our arrival around day break at our first anchorage.
"Leave only footprints, take only memories" (...and maybe some pictures)
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