Ecuador Stories and Tips

Day 16 – March 27: Galapagos #7 – Espanola

PUNTA SUAREZ:

Our morning excursion was a dry landing. One of our guides had to shoo the sea lions off the docking area so that we could disembark. The sea lions were quite animated and vocal so very fun to watch (even after 7 days of seeing them!).

Around the corner from the landing area was a protected pool which we called the "nursery" because it was filled with baby sea lions all playing together. Too cute Some sea lions would come out and sniff at people’s feet!

In the same pool at the end of our hike, we saw a young sea lion that had an apparent shark bite out of its side. It didn’t look too bad, so our guide was optimistic that it would survive.

This island has a special subspecies of marine iguanas called "Christmas Tree" iguanas because they are green and red. Some of the larger ones that were ready to mate were a brilliant color.

These iguanas were a lot more animated than we have seen elsewhere. Some were fighting (or mating) and were quite aggressive. Some females were digging a nest.

The other highlight on this island is the Waved Albatross. However, they typically don’t arrive until April, and we were not lucky enough to see any early arrivers….

The hike took us along some cliffs, which were quite stunning with the waves crashing violently. One spot is the famous "blowhole" where the water sprays through and shoots up into the air. If the sun is just right, you can see a rainbow in the sea mist.

This hike was probably our longest – about 1 ½ miles – and was very rocky, really jumping from rock to rock instead of on a smooth trail.

Animals:
• Christmas Tree Marine Iguanas (only on this island)
• Hood Mockingbird (only on this island)
• Sea Lions
• Nazca Boobies
• Blue-Footed Boobies
• Frigate birds
• Lava Lizards
• Galapagos Dove

GARDNER BAY (BEACH):

Gardner Bay is a must-see by everyone going to the Galapagos. It’s a beautiful white sand beach interrupted only by dozens of sea lions sunning themselves all in a line. This is your opportunity to get your picture taken with these sunbathing beauties.

Gardner Bay is a wet landing, but it was very easy to get in and out of the panga onto the beach.

It was nice to be able to walk along the beach and stretch our legs a bit. We could see where the sea turtle nests were by their tracks in the sand from the bushes to the ocean.

There was also a little inlet inside the beach where the young sea lions played. We are still not tired of watching them….

Another family brought a football, and a spontaneous game of keep away broken out in the shallow water.

There is a large rock (or small island) just off shore, and we snorkeled out it. There were a few fish, but not that much. Then right by the rock, we came across a gigantic marble ray. It must have been 5 feet across – that is scary big! It was just sitting there, and then it started moving ever so slowly. We were quick to get out of its way!

Animals:
• Sea lions
• Marble ray

CLOTHING:

For the morning hike, we wore shorts, short-sleeved shirts and/or lightweight long-sleeved shirts, hats, and good hiking shoes for walking on rocks. It was pleasant when the clouds covered the sun but hot when the sun came out.

For the afternoon, we just wore swimsuits and some wore a cover-up. No sandals were needed for the soft sand, and no wetsuits for the water.

FOOD:

Breakfast was poached eggs in a salmon cup, cheese, toast, cereal, yogurt, fruit, and watermelon juice.

Snack after the morning excursion was cheese sandwiches and pear juice.

Lunch was a nice buffet.

Snack after the afternoon excursion was lemon ice tea and yucca rolls dipped in honey (they looked a little bit like mini Twinkies but tasted nothing like them).

Dinner was apparently whatever they had left in the kitchen – BBQ chicken, sea bass with calamari sauce, and herbed rice with raisins. Dessert was a cinnamon cake with chocolate and raspberry sauce. It all sounds better than it tasted.

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