Month: July 2018

Guest Blog by Olivia

isla seymour norte
First glimpse at a land iguana! Unfortunately, this poor guy didnt make it. This island was also covered in birds. We saw a ton of baby boobies!
punta vicente roca
We saw this guy while on a panga ride through a sea cave!
punta espinosa
We walked across new lava rock for this hike. Along the way, we encountered a large sea lion, too many lava lizards, a whale skeleton, and some marine iguanas.
tagus cove – isabella 
This hike started in a bay where old ships would write their names on the cliffs. What looked like graffiti was a decades old guestbook. Also, this baby sea lion was blocking our way up the stairs while he posed for pics!
isla rabida
My favorite hike! We saw a couple Galapagos Hawks and the landscape, with the red dirt and bright green cactus contrasting with the deep blue ocean, was very beautiful.
Thank you, Olivia, for your unique view of the islands. You were a great travel companion, and we hope to share more adventures in the future.
Click HERE to see Amy’s comments. 

Guest Blog by Catherine

Having swum with green sea turtles before in Hawaii, I was on a quest during our Galapagos trip to finally swim with sea lions.  Our naturalist guide, Dres, was confident that we’d see plenty of sea lions during our snorkeling adventures.  Like most of the wildlife in the Galapagos, they have had little to fear from human visitors.  That “innocente” as our guides described it in combination with an innate curiosity made human-sea lion interactions almost unavoidable.

Sure enough, during our second snorkel off the beach on Fernandina, a friendly sea lion zipped around me while I snorkeled, circling me while I snapped pictures.  Getting back on the boat, we couldn’t wait to download the pictures from the underwater camera to see what incredible footage we had captured of our amazing encounter.

Sadly, excitement combined with trying not to drown while operating a camera does not make for fantastic photos…

Here is my best shot of the side of our sea lion friend…


The clear winner from the day – an action shot of the sea lion’s armpit…or underflipper (not quite sure what the official term is).


Our next snorkel outing I was determined to remain calm and capture a great shot if I was lucky enough to see more sea lions in the water.  We were snorkeling in deep water off Floreana.  As we jumped off the panga, I stayed to adjust my mask while the rest of the group swam away.  Floating out in the middle of the ocean, a dark blur came up and grabbed my fin.  After I stopped yelling and realized it was a sea lion and not a shark, I turned on my camera and tried to get some good pictures.  He (or she) zipped around me, darting in to get a closer look and them zooming away.

Later that evening, I downloaded the files from my camera to see that, although considerably better than the first attempt, National Geographic would not be calling anytime soon…




Luckily, Olivia took possession of the camera for the remainder of the trip and filmed this playful sea lion using giant sea stars to amuse himself!

If National Geographic is interested, she’ll be available in about four years!


Thank you Catherine, for a most entertaining story!  And thank you Olivia, for saving the day with the wonderful sea lion video!

Click HERE to see what Olivia has to say  

Catastrophe Averted!!!

Thanks again to all who have followed our report on the Galápagos Trip.  I do believe a few of our guest bloggers are working on some additional items, so that will be fun when those show up.

I don’t believe I mentioned a significant wrinkle that occurred early in the trip.  In transit from Quito to the ship, I somehow managed to smash my fairly new iPad. Even though I was carrying it in my hand luggage … 


This was particularly irritating because this is a replacement iPad for one I’d dropped a few months before … and I was pretty sure it was out of the 90 day Amex Warranty period, so I was … 😞 😔 😭 

Once we made it off the ship, I double checked the purchase date and found I had … drumroll … actually bought the optional repair/replacement insurance. 

I filed the claim and sent the broken iPad in.  They fixed it the same day and sent it back.  It appears to be like new and working fine. Nice to have a happy ending!


For now, I am using the old “cracked” one, cause it is barely noticeable compared to the disaster from the trip.  And I’m scared to mess up the repaired one 😊 

Leaving the Galápagos Islands – Back to Quito

July 5,2018 – day 7 – disembarkation and travel to Quito

This day was all about making sure we were packed and ready to go.  We had breakfast and were entertained with some Galápagos videos while we waited to disembark the ship.  The crew was on a tight schedule … they needed to say goodbye to us, and get the ship ready for a new bunch of cruisers arriving at noon.





Panga rides back to the port, then a short bus ride to the airport.  Check in was long and slow, but let’s forget about the rough parts of travel.  We made it safely back to Quito at 5pm.  Then had to find luggage and  another 45 min+ bus ride back to the Hotel Casa Gangotena, where we had stayed before. Truthfully, Most of us were a bit out of sorts about another long bus ride, when we had to be back at  the airport early the next day.

As things do, this ended up working out to our advantage.  We agreed to meet at the restaurant for dinner.  Turns out they were totally booked when Lou spoke to the host.  But, no problem – they set up a table for us in the atrium.  We had a wonderful Ecuadorian Feast, our very own attentive wait staff  and a lovely venue to close out our time in Ecuador.  Good job, Lou!








A wonderful evening and the perfect way to cap off a great trip with family and good friends.  

This essentially ends my recap of the trip.  I already covered some of our travel woes on the way home, but let’s not relive those less-than-awesome two days.

I will probably follow up with my final thoughts, but am hoping to be able to share some guest posts by the rest of the crew.  I still have work to do on photos, putting Lou’s photos and mine into a Smugmug album for sharing.  

Thank you to all who have been following along!  We appreciate the support, whether in the comments here, in emails or phone calls (thanks, Jeannette – I just picked up your voice mail 🙂 )

Click HERE for Catherine’s Guest Blog.

Celebrating July 4th

July 4, 2018 – day 6, last evening on board

Once back on board La Pinta, we had time to freshen up before the ship’s crew hosted a 4th of July Celbration for us,  It was a nice way to toast our last evening onboard.






We trekked down to the dining room for another delicious meal.

 Click HERE to read about the last of our adventure, as the trip is sadly coming to a close. 

Punta Cormorant – Floreana Island

July 4, 2018 – day 6, our last land adventure

We loaded into the Pangas for our last official land exploration – headed to Punta Cormorant, an olivine-crystal Beach with a brackish water lagoon.  



I had my own private Shore Walk, guided by Daniel. I was so happy to see nesting Blue Footed Boobies, since I had missed them on our very first outing to North Seymour Island.


But then, I looked closely and was saddened by the sight of a dead Booby Baby. The parents looked on in distress:


Wait … a miracle!


The baby lives!  Daniel explained how the parents teach the young to “play dead.”  This is to protect the baby when the parents fly off to gather food. Speaking of food, our newly arisen baby woke up in time for a snack:


Daniel pulled me away from the birds, and we hiked a short distance to the shore of the lagoon  and, another surprise!




We found flamingos!  The American Flamingo is one of the “Big 15” species sought by travelers to the Galápagos Islands.

Daniel and I walked back along the beach, and had a chance to see more Blue Footed Boobies. We even saw some pairs doing the dancing ritual, where the male raises his foot in a stilted dance-like move, hoping to attract the female.






More baby action:








Here’s a shot of Catherine and Olivia exiting the Panga at the end of our excursion. When the water was choppy, the Panga could rise by 2-3 feet with the swells, making the exit tricky.  We always had at least two crew members assisting.

Click HERE to continue.