This wasn't a standard cruise, it was an expedition cruise. This meant that every evening at 19:15 we had a briefing about the next day's activities and whether or not we would need to sign up for any of them. There were a lot of early starts, one walk started at 6am! All transport to and from the ship was via zodiacs. When we woke, the ship was moored in a location and once everyone was on board for lunch, it upped anchor and moved to another location. Some of the photos are from the official Silversea photographer, Jorge Prigann. I've flagged these (JP).
14 February. Quito. Today I took a trip to the equator (both of them!). Our first stop was at the Intiñan museum. This where the equator has been calculated by GPS. There I stood with one leg in the northern hemisphere and the other in the southern. We saw how water drains straight down on the Equator and rotates in different directions in the two hemispheres. I tried to walk along the equator with my eyes closed and couldn't! I did manage to balance an egg on a nail though. Then we went to see the Pululahua crater. It was covered in mist! Finally we went to the site of the original line of the equator, calculated in the mid 1700's by the French. It's in a place called Ciudad Mitad del Mundo. They were only a 150 metres or so out. In the evening I went on the included Quito by Night tour. More of a Quito in the Early Evening tour. This was really a panoramic tour with two stops. We drove through the historical part, narrow streets, lots of traffic. We passed the, still unfinished, Basilica. Visited a chocolate shop with a lot of tastings. Then we walked through a lively little, covered plaza, with people eating, to the Presidential Palace. Finally up a steep hill to a statue of the Virgin Mary. Great views of Quito from here.
15 February. Quito/San Cristóbal. Up at 4am again. On the bus to the airport at 5:30. The plane left on time at 8:05 and after a brief stop in Guayaquil we flew on to San Cristóbal, which is the name of both the island and town. We flew over the ship just before landing. On the way to the pier I saw sea lions, Sally Lightfoot crabs, a pelican and a marine iguana, which kindly spat salt for me. I was transferred to the ship on a zodiac. Welcomed on board with sparkling wine and then taken to my suite. After lunch my case had arrived and so began the usual round of unpacking, muster drills etc. After we set sail, we circumnavigated Kicker Rock, also known as Roca Leon Dormido.
16 February, am. Bartolomé. This week is one of early rises. At 7:30 we set off in a zodiac to Bartolomé. Then it was a walk on the only boardwalk in the Galápagos, with 388 steps to the summit. We saw lava lizards, Darwin's Finches, lava cacti and other islands, in the distance. Later in the morning we went snorkelling from a beach on Bartolomé, close to one of the iconic rock formations, Pinnacle Rock.
16 February, pm. Caleta Bucanero, Santiago island. This was an hour long zodiac ride. We saw the rock layers, built up over the years. Pelicans, a heron, a blue footed booby, that unfortunately was swimming, so I never saw its feet, Nazca boobies and both sea lions and Galápagos seals.
17 February, am. Punta Vicente. Punta Vicente Roca, Isabela. A zodiac tour along the coast today. I saw so many different animals. Marine iguanas, sea lions, penguins, blue footed and Nazca boobies, pacific green turtles, cormorants, a sun fish, pelicans, crabs and various fish.
17 February,pm. Punta Espinoza, Fernandina. A dry landing. We walked a couple of miles over very rough lava. We saw hundreds if not thousands of marine iguanas, sea lions and Sally Lightfoot crabs. Some people saw a racer snake, but I didn't. There was a juvenile hawk and in another tree a pair of mating adult hawks.
18 February am. Caleta Tagus, Isabela. There was a walk this morning at 6am. I didn't go! My first trip was kayaking. They were double kayaks, so I was lucky enough to share with the guide. We saw blue footed boobies, martins, pelicans, penguins, cormorants and a sea turtle. Amazingly, after yesterday's mating hawks, we saw penguins mating. My second trip of the morning was snorkelling off a zodiac. This wasn't as good as the one off the beach. For a start, it was cold! Secondly our first area was very murky, lots of small fish, but not much else. Our second spot was slightly clearer and the fish both bigger and prettier, but all in all, quite disappointing.
18 February pm. Bahia Elizabeth, Isabela. This afternoon's excursion was a zodiac ride to and through red mangroves. After a long ride we reached the mangroves. Once in them, there were a few birds but we saw many many turtles, a couple of manta rays and a lone sea lion. On the way back, we passed many pelicans, a few cormorants and then maybe 30 or 40 penguins, considering that there are only around 1000 penguins across 4 islands, that was a lot!
19 February, am. Post Office Bay, Floreana. This morning's first excursion was a kayak trip round Post Office Bay. There were only four of us in two canoes plus the guide. We kayaked round some reefs and past a few red mangroves. There were lots of seal pups playing in the water and one big male who kept barking at us. There was a juvenile blue footed booby on a rock. It's feet were a pale hydrangea blue, they don't get dark until they're about 6 months old. After a quick swap of life jackets on board, it was back into a zodiac for a wet landing on a beach in Post Office Bay. There we saw the Post Office. It's a barrel on a pole and it's been there since the late 18th century. You post your letter, without a stamp, then if someone who lives near where it's addressed finds it, they're supposed to hand deliver it. I picked up three, but they'll go through the Royal Mail!
19 February, pm. Punta Cormorant. My penultimate wet landing. After landing, we saw a male blue footed booby feeding its young by regurgitation. Almost next door was a pair of boobies in a mating ritual. We never saw the consummation though. Then we saw flamingoes, including juveniles. They are American flamingoes in the Galápagos, but there was also a Chilean flamingo amongst them. Then we walked to another beach where we saw a yellow crowned night heron eating a Sally Lightfoot crab. At the 19:15 briefing about tomorrow's activities, for some reason, people kept getting up and going outside. After the briefing, I found out why. Sharks, lots of sharks. Some people even saw flying fish swim into the side of the ship and get eaten by the sharks.
20 February, am. Cerro Dragon, Santa Cruz. 7am and a nature walk. I saw a few land iguanas, which are yellow and black. Lots of birds including a fly catcher which landed on a stick held by our guide and a migrating Northern Fallerope. The second trip of the morning was a deep sea snorkel about a 20 minute zodiac ride from the ship. Lots of fish, including a barracuda and an eagle ray. Some people saw sharks, but I didn't.
20 February, pm. Bachas, Santa Cruz. A lecture in the early afternoon followed by a very choppy zodiac ride to my last wet landing and a short one hour walk. We saw lots of birds including pelicans and herons. Along the way were the remains a of a 2nd World War barge. There were a lot of turtle nests and just behind, in a small pond were two flamingoes.
21 February am. Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz. Puerto Ayora is quite a large town, around 19,000 inhabitants. It was quite a shock after all of the unpopulated places we'd visited. This morning was a trip to the Tortoise Ecological Reserve, where, not surprisingly, we saw giant tortoises. We had to wear wellies as it was supposed to be quite muddy. It wasn't! We also walked through a double lava tube. Double, because one tube was on top of another.
21 February pm. Puerto Ayora and Estación Darwin. This afternoon was a visit to Fausto Llerena Breeding and Interpretation Centre, also known as Charles Darwin Centre. Here they breed giant tortoises. We saw some small ones that were only a few
weeks old, 2020 arrivals. On the walk back, we passed a small fish market, where sea lions and pelicans were waiting for scraps from the traders.
We had a late night here and a couple of us were going to go into town to eat. Unfortunately, it was raining really hard and there's no cover on a zodiac, so we ate on board.
22 February am. Baltra. This is a small airport from which we flew to Guayaquil, on the first leg home.
6 mins 2 secs
|Water at Equator
2 mins 7 secs
|Iguanas & sea lions
1 min 29 secs
|Deep water snorkelling
1 min 27 secs
|Kayaking with sea lion pups
1 min 47 secs
|Deep water snorkelling
3 mins 10 secs
||Ship||Kicker Rock||Sunset||Bartolomé||Zodiac||Pinnacle Rock|
||Cactii||Sea lion||Sea lion||Sea lion||Praying Monk Rock||Nazca booby|
||Sea Lion||Marine iguanas||Birds||Penguin||Blue footed booby||Blue footed booby|
||Cave||Animals||Blue footed boobies||Turtle||Marine iguanas||Marine iguana|
||Juvenile eagle||Cobweb||Eagles||Marine iguanas||Sea lion||Sea lion|
||Sea lion||Sea lion||Turtle||Me||Island||Boarding zodiac|
|On the zodiac
||Turtle||Pelicans||Penguins||Post Office||Post Office||Flycatcher|
|Blue footed boobies
||Lava tube||Tortoises||Tortoise||Tortoise||Tortoise||Lamp posts|
||Lunch||Me||Cemetery||Tortoise||Tortoises||Sea lion and pelican|
|Sea lion and pelican