Monthly Archives: December 2016

Volcano hiking and exciting diving

Part 4

Adding to my previous report of time spent at the Galapagos Islands, I have to say that another captivating moment was watching a small pod of orcas hunting off Fernandina’s coastline. Although their appearance was brief, it brought goose bumps. One orca attempted to snatch a sea lion from the rocky coastline only a few metres from where we were stood receiving a short briefing from our guide Renny about the island’s interesting geology.orcas

These creatures always amaze me with their sheer power and pack mentality which, combined, makes them fearsome predators. However, if I were to pick a non-wildlife moment that took my breath away, it would have to be reaching the summit of Sierra Negra. Sierra Negra, an active volcano on the island of Isabela, rises 1,124m above sea level – and at about six miles wide, its caldera is the world’s second largest.

As we came over the summit, the clouds that had engulfed us for the past couple of hours seemed to part, revealing a vibrant blue sky that provided a perfect backdrop against the green tree line and black volcanic rock.kicker-rock

Our guide stressed how lucky we were to see the sky like this, as it is more commonly hidden in dark rain clouds and mist! The view was undeniably spectacular, and the many photos I took never did it justice. A moment better stored in memory than on an SD card.

I’m a water baby at heart, which is probably why this archipelago resonates so deeply with me. I’ve dived and snorkelled at what are regarded as some of the world’s best sites, but this still has to rank in my top three. Every time I entered the water, there was something remarkable there – from cheeky juvenile sea lions that would grab my fins given half a chance, to the smallest, multi-coloured coral feeders. What great attractions of a diving trip in the Galapagos from WILDFOOT…

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Over the week, we snorkelled with sharks, turtles, penguins, seals, sea lions, eagle rays, marine iguanas and so much more. As with my previous visits to the Galapagos Islands, the time spent in the water was undoubtedly the real highlight for me. I can’t wait to start planning my next trip back here!

 

If you would like to learn more about booking a Galapagos diving trip with WILDFOOT, simply contact our friendly and professional team today.

 

 

Galapagos adventure activities by the Estrella del Mar

Part 3

Having already been out in the Galapagos Islands for almost a week before meeting my new group at the dockside in Puerto Ayora, I felt very at ease with the sea lions and iguanas that seemed unwilling to move out of our way as we tried to board the panga sent to pick us up.

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Our home for the next seven nights was the Estrella del Mar, a spacious eight-cabin boat with a wrap-around deck for maximum wildlife viewing opportunities. The Estrella has seven crew members and a bilingual, certified naturalist with an incredible knowledge of the local wildlife, vegetation and geology. The Estrella is very efficiently run, with two panga boats shuttling the 16 clients back and forth to the islands for wet and dry landings and deep water snorkel dives.

However, more importantly, the crew seem to know how to have fun and add to the trip’s overall enjoyment – their passion and enthusiasm was contagious. The camaraderie among the crew members and their overwhelming desire to please us was very easy to see, leaving me feeling relaxed.panga-majestic

Our cruise took us to the islands of Santa Cruz, Rábida, Santiago, Chinaman’s Hat, Fernandina, Isabela and San Cristóbal, with multiple landings or snorkelling excursions at each. The diversity of each island and each day was just incredible – you never knew what to expect next.

From such an eventful week, it is difficult to isolate just one highlight, but there were a few particularly notable moments. These included watching a group of blue-footed boobies dive-bombing for their dinner on Santiago Island, a ritual almost as mesmerising as their mating dance.

As we stood admiring the beach’s pelicans, Sally Lightfoot crabs and iguanas, we noticed a small group of boobies congregating in the sky above us. Then, all of a sudden, they dropped together like torpedoes, plunging deep into the water in search of fish. They repeated this spectacular display over and over again, barely pausing to swallow the fish they caught on the previous attempt.flying-boobies

Read the fourth part of this story in the next WILDFOOT blog post. In the meantime, enquire to our team now about the Galapagos adventure activities that will give you memories to last a lifetime.

 

 

Catching sight of amazing wildlife on the Galapagos Islands

Part 2

We enjoy countless intimate and close-up wildlife experiences during our Galapagos stay. However, for me, the highlight is our day at Genovesa. I hear the anchor drop shortly after 5am and get up on deck to see sunrise. I quickly realise that we have stopped in Darwin Bay, the submerged caldera of a dormant volcano.

Embracing ‘the bird island’

As the sun emerges, the sky fills with birds. No wonder it has gained the reputation as ‘the bird island’; within half an hour or so, I am surrounded by frigate birds, swallow-tailed gulls, storm petrels, red-billed tropicbirds, Nazca boobies and red-footed boobies.

After breakfast, we travel to Prince Philip’s Steps, where we start the trail that winds its way around the island, leading us through huge colonies of mating boobies and frigate birds. Watching these courtship rituals so close up is truly awe-inspiring. Particularly memorable is watching a short-eared owl hunt a petrel in broad daylight, a technique adopted only by owls on the Galapagos.2h3a9275

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Snorkelling among hammerhead sharks

Later that morning, we try to escape the blistering heat by taking to the water – and what a treat is in store for us! James leads us to a shallow piece of water protected by the cliff line. This is known as a cleaning site for hammerhead sharks, and doesn’t disappoint. Within two minutes of being in the water, I quickly spot the outline of a hammerhead shark below me, and then another and another. To snorkel among so many of these wonderful creatures is truly a dream come true.

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Even within this relatively short itinerary, we noticed the striking diversity of the islands’ geology and topography, with each island having its own personality and history. In one day alone, we walked along the red sandy beaches of Rabida, explored the black lava tunnels and formations of Chinese Hat Islet, and snorkelled in crystal clear blue waters full of multi-coloured coral.

Why visit the amazing Galapagos only once?

No two landings on the Galapagos are ever the same, and this wonderful diversity makes the longer itineraries extremely rewarding. I was relieved that, when I finally disembarked the Majestic in San Cristobel, I wasn’t flying home like many of my fellow travellers, but instead had another exciting cruise to join later that day. Thanks to WILDFOOT, Galapagos cruise tours could welcome you, too.

Contact WILDFOOT today for more information about our Galapagos cruise packages, designed to enable you to discover this truly remarkable part of the world.

 

Recalling my trip around the Galapagos Islands on board the Majestic

Part 1

Despite having only recently visited the Galapagos Islands, I had an overwhelming desire to return, feeling there was unfinished business. My previous trip focused on the southern and western islands – and, as colleagues and friends told me the other half of the archipelago offers a very different experience, I was left with no option but to board a plane back to ‘paradise’.

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Within moments of landing at Baltra airport, wonderful memories of my last visit came flooding back. As we made our way down to the nearby pier, we were greeted by the coolly confident sea lions. These relax in areas typically reserved for humans as though they own the place, which isn’t far from the truth! They were here before mankind and are one of the reasons we flock to the islands in our thousands each year. Nonetheless, it is still slightly surreal to see them basking in the sun in the children’s playground or on the sun loungers while families and beachgoers frolic nearby.

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The fearless nature of the local wildlife is without doubt one of the most striking features of the islands and appealing to wildlife enthusiasts and photographers alike. I certainly enjoyed it from what was, on this occasion, my home – a beautiful motor yacht called the Majestic, specifically designed and built for Galapagos cruises. With a maximum of 18 guests, it offers a very intimate and personal experience. The social areas on board are tastefully furnished and very spacious, in particular the sundeck, which includes a Jacuzzi. There were nine crew members on board led by an extremely experienced captain, Juan and one certified, bilingual naturalist, James.

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Over the next few days, we navigated around the central islands (Santa Cruz, San Cristobel, Rabida etc.) and out to the most northern island, Genovesa, with several landings and snorkelling opportunities at each. The team on board do their utmost to cater to all of our needs, whether it be a particular dietary request at dinner or to have ‘just another 5 minutes’ with a turtle or the photographers among the group searching for the ‘perfect’ image. Flexibility and patience is paramount on a small group expedition like this – and thankfully, James has an abundance of both.

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Stay tuned for the second part of this story in the WILDFOOT Journal – and feel free to contact our team if you would like to learn more about our acclaimed and comprehensive Galapagos cruises.