Galapagos Islands 2015 Vacation (INCA Tours)

Day 8

May 13, 2015

Our day in (almost painful) detail

6:00am PA wake up call by Richard.  We are in Tagus Cove off Isabela Island.  The Integrity is anchored in the middle of the cove with Isabela Island visible on three sides.  I think these are the calmest waters we have been in since we boarded the ship.  Barbara seems to be holding up.  Her motion-sickness isn’t stopping her even if it is bothering her more than she is letting on. 6:30am Breakfast.  Very good.  As always onboard the luxury yacht Integrity! 7:00am After breakfast, while we tourists were getting ready for our next activity, Richard was on the top deck with his drone.  He got some pretty impressive views.  It definitely saw things we couldn’t. 7:30am We have landed on Isabela Island with Fernandina in plain sight.  We landed at a newly constructed dock.  Tagus Cove area was a place to find either pirates or whalers in years long past.  The early visitors started the graffiti that can be seen on the cliff faces.  The graffiti easily seen is much more recent. 7:35am We reached a flat area to stop for a break.  Walking up the side of a volcano is hard work.  We are looking down at Darwin Lake, which is in a tuff cone.  Darwin Lake is filled with salt water.  No fresh water here. 7:45am We are hiking on Isabela Island. Hiking around and overlooking Darwin Lake with Tagus Cove and Fernandina in the background.  Isabela Island was formed by the merging of six volcanos.  All are still active, except Ecuador Volcano.  We saw a Medium Ground Finch and its nest, also a Galapagos Mockingbird.  Richard also showed us some volcanic hail (lava pebbles). 8:20am Continuing up hill we found a nice place for a group photo.  I set up my tripod and used a remote trigger so we could all be in the picture. 8:30am Transitioning into another ‘growing zone’ on the island.  We are used to different growing zones based on latitude (basically distance from the equator).  The Galapagos Islands straddle the equator so the islands don’t have similar weather patterns compared to the US.  The growing zones in the Galapagos Islands are based on altitude (height above sea level).  Like most things in nature, it isn’t quite as simplistic as this, but this is the short version. While at the top of the hill Richard got out the drone and took some interesting video. We are looking at he highest point in the Galapagos, Wolf Volcano at 5600 feet (Wolf Volcano started to erupt less than 2 weeks after we left the Galapagos Islands). 9:00am We have started the walk back down.  We just saw an immature Galapagos Hawk flying overhead.  That is one of the birds I really wanted to see close up.  I have read that Darwin walked up to a Galapagos Hawk that was perched on a branch and pushed it off the branch with the muzzle of a rifle.  I have no desire to do that, but imagine the thrill I would get from that close an encounter.  I find it hard to believe that it is possible to get that close to any wild bird, never mind a top predator, Hawk!  But, alas, it did not happen.  On the wing, in the distance is the best view I managed.  Maybe next time.  I will be back! 9:25am Back on board the Integrity.  We now have about a half hour to get ready for a snorkel in Tagus Cove.  Richard tends to keep us moving, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I am here to see everything I can, not relax on a yacht. 10:00am Snorkeled in Tagus Bay.  We saw: Galapagos Penguins, Galapagos Sea Lions, Chocolate Chip Starfish, many fish of many species, Blue Footed Boobies, Sea Turtle.  I didn’t manage to get any photos of the Penguins.  They appear to be flying underwater in motions and speed.  By the time I saw it and tried to get the camera in position it was gone. 11:20am We all got in the panga, which had four tandem kayaks in tow, rode out of Tagus Cove to a nice start point for a paddle.  We followed the shoreline looking for interesting sights.  We paddled back to the Integrity and got out of the kayaks onto the fantail swimming platform.  Once back on the ship we had about 30 minutes before lunch. 12:00pm Back on board the Integrity.  I took some photos from the ship of Tagus Cove.  Some scenery and some of the graffiti. 12:30pm Lunch started with a traditional Ecuadorian soup.  In the soup was a ball of meat, plantain and corn mixed together in the broth.  Then we had pasta with choice of pomadoro or carbonara sauce.  Dessert was a fruit salad with apples, watermelon and other stuff mixed in. 1:00pm We are underway moving to a new area.  Richard said this was our best chance for dolphins and whales, but we saw none.  2:40pm Just anchored in Punta Vincente Roca.  Cliffs and caves line the shore.  We see some Brown Pelicans and some lava tubes. 4:00pm The afternoon did not go as planned.  We anchored at Punta Vicente Roca.  We were supposed to go out for a panga ride and a snorkel.  The water is pretty rough and looking into the water from the ship you can tell there is no good visibility.  There are many sea turtles feeding and swimming near the ship, but because the water is so murky, we didn’t see the turtles until they were near the surface.  We didn’t do our panga ride because the seas were too rough, and we didn’t snorkel because all that wave action was kicking up too much debris.  We did see some Sea Lions from the ship. 5:00pm We weighed anchor and left Punta Vicinte Roca.  We are headed for our next anchorage.  We have to go around the north end of Isabela Island.  While in transit we will cross the equator (twice) and have our only sightings of Nazca Boobies. 5:38pm We were relaxing topside and the crew brought out some hors d'oeuvres.  They also brought out some champagne.  The champagne was for a toast as we crossed the equator.  This is the first time we crossed the equator on land or sea (we flew over it a few times). 5:50pm After crossing the equator we were all sitting topside enjoying the scenery and the ambiance when we were boarded by King Neptune and his henchmen (the captain and the crew) from the deep.  They explained that King Neptune was looking for a wife and that we could only stay here if we could prove we were animals of the Galapagos.  We were sitting and watching and you could tell they were looking at the women for a victim for the play.  For some reason Barbara felt uneasy and didn’t want to play, so as they approached her she pointed to Jenny and cried out “Take the skinny one!!!”  That didn’t help.  They took Barbara. Barbara was kidnapped and taken away to become King Neptune’s bride.  When she returned she looked a tad different.  In her words… “like a 58DD” (amazing what a couple of balloons can do).  She also had a crown, some makeup and a cape.  Once back topside she was introduced to us has the new Queen. One of King Neptune’s helpers produced some headbands, each with a different animal portrayed on it.  We found out later that the painting on the headbands was done by Captain Angel, who also did the whiteboard artwork below.  Each person got a headband and had to convince King Neptune that they were the animal on the headband.  Julian was Tortoise, Allison was Blue Footed Booby, Jenny was Penguin and Craig was shark, John was Frigatebird, Barbara was Sea Lion and Richard was Albatross. 7:30pm Dinner time.  HUGE shrimp for dinner.  Maybe they were King Prawns?  Served like I had them in Europe… from the ocean to the pot to the table, all body parts still intact.  Not at all the way us Norte Americanos are used to being served shrimp.  A very good cake for dinner, but, sadly, I couldn’t remember what type it was. Over dinner the conversation turned to some of the differences between the USA and Australia.  We talked about politics, lawyers and just life in general.  Then we moved to the lounge area where Richard told us about our tomorrow.  Then, relaxing in the good company, we had a conversation about Oreo cookies, the pros and cons and many ways to eat them. 8:35pm Another day done.  The time flies by way too fast.
"Leave only footprints, take only memories" (...and maybe some pictures)
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Video Note: Photos and videos taken by Richard Polatty our tour director, guide and  naturalist, used with permission.  Richard only requested that he be given proper  credit for the material and his email be listed:  richard@naturalist.net Note: Photos and videos taken by Richard Polatty our tour director, guide and  naturalist, used with permission.  Richard only requested that he be given proper  credit for the material and his email be listed:  richard@naturalist.net Pics 1 - 14 Pics 1 - 8 Pics 1 - 15 Pics 1 - 7 Pics 16 - 30 Pics 16 - 31 Pics 1 - 15 Video Note: Photos and videos taken by Richard Polatty our tour director, guide and  naturalist, used with permission.  Richard only requested that he be given proper  credit for the material and his email be listed:  richard@naturalist.net Pics 1 - 16 Pics 1 - 19 Video Pics 1 - 14 Pics 1 - 13 Pics 1 - 3 Pics 1 - 12 Pics 1 - 17 Pics 1 - 21 Pics 1 - 8 Pics 1 - 19 Pics 20 - 39 Pics 1 - 4 Video Note: Photos and videos taken by Richard Polatty our tour director, guide and  naturalist, used with permission.  Richard only requested that he be given proper  credit for the material and his email be listed:  richard@naturalist.net Note: Photos and videos taken by Richard Polatty our tour director, guide and  naturalist, used with permission.  Richard only requested that he be given proper  credit for the material and his email be listed:  richard@naturalist.net Video