The highlight of our first adventure in South America was planned to be a week in the Galapagos Islands (GI) aboard a comfortable expedition ship with excellent naturalists.
By way of introduction, the Galapagos Islands (GI) are located in the Pacific, west of Ecuador’s mainland, with six large and a number of smaller islands, all near to Equator – they were formed by volcanoes, some of which are still active. Typically the shores are flat, with an island interior of high volcanic mountains. The GI are well-known for their stunning variety of fauna and flora including, now protected as a wildlife sanctuary:
- Eleven species of giant tortoise
- Three species of giant lizard
- Eighty-five species of birds including the Galapagos Penguin
First discovered in 1535 by the Spaniards, the GI became world-famous because of Charles Darwin who spent six weeks there in 1835.
With adequate rainfall, the beaches support mangroves. Meanwhile, further inland, with less rainfall, there are thorny bushes, cactus and mesquite. On the higher ground, morning mists encourage of plants to flourish. The sea surrounding the GI is cooled by the Humboldt Current from the Antarctic.
We boarded our expedition cruise off San Cristobal at lunchtime on Saturday, flying in from Quito. After our two-week adventure in Ecuador, we returned to Quito for two nights. After settling, we went on our first exploratory trip by Zodiac, having earlier circumnavigated Kicker Rock. There was a wonderful view of the sunset.
For a selection of our many photos, tap on the photo below and press the right arrow to see the full collection: