Category: Galápagos Islands

Let’s Talk about Food …

I will share some photos here from our first three evening meals. I thought I had missed photos of our first dinner, but had mistakenly identified them as coming from our second night. 

As mentioned before, dinner was a sit down affair, usually served in the first floor dining room. We tried to sit together at a table for 6, but occasionally mixed with our fellow passengers (note, everyone we met on the cruise was very nice).  We were asked to pick our evening entree and dessert selection at lunchtime. The first evening, we sampled the beef selection, the fish, and the vegetarian -risotto with asparagus. All were very good. An appetizer Dish was also served before the meal, often highlighting Ecuadorian Cuisine.  

Our first evening’s fare:

 

 

As as you can see, the main dessert was usually quite fancy. Fruit was a nice alternative as it was always very fresh and tasty. 

Our second dinner was just as good. I didn’t take notes on the fish selection each night, but I remember red snapper, wahoo,  and grouper as some of the offerings. The meat selections included beef, pork, turkey, and chicken. We also discovered a range of pastas were offered each evening. I chose the Pasta Carbonara on night 2, and it was delicious. 

 

 

The others caught on to the pasta trick, and we had colorful Trio of Pastas for night 3. 

 

 

 

This is a good example of the meals we were served on La Pinta. We had no complaints, and will also say the service was very good. Our waiter, Luis took exceptional care of us. 

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Lunchtime Fun & Afternoon Activities

July 1, 2018 – day 3, afternoon fun

We returned to the ship after visiting Urbina Bay, listened to a Naturalist talk on the Galápagos Islands, and then had lunch. 

Carbo Loading for the Afternoon Activities:

A good time to comment on the delicious soups we had at most meals. Many contained potato and corn, with Ecuadorian variations throughout the week. And, of course, we can’t let a meal pass without dessert. 

 

There were two options for the afternoon … a Panga Coastline Exploration, or more Snorkeling from the Pangas in Tagus Cove off of Isabela Island. Lou, Amy & I picked the Panga Tour, while las tres amigas chose the Snorkeling. 

 

This turned out to be an entertaining Panga Tour. It was a little choppy for photos, but we adapted as we saw lots of Pelicans, our first Galápagos Penguins, Flightless Cormorants, and an industrious Lava Heron. 

This was obviously a prime area for Pelicans, and we saw a nesting site high on the cliffs as well. I always considered Pelicans to be rather ho-hum, but these were beautiful.

 

 

 

 

We got excited when we saw the little Galápagos Penguins. These are the second smallest penguin species, and the average height is 19 inches (the ones we saw looked smaller). 

Mama Penguin is calling to her young…and talk about camouflage; these penguins were very hard to photograph as they blended right in with the background.

 

He (or maybe she) swam up and out of the water, clamoring up the cliff

 

Reunited -we actually saw the adult regurgitate some food into the young one’s mouth, but not quick enough to capture a photo.  Apparently  adults might share food with a young adult penguin who has already left the nest – a rare behavior for most other types of penguins. 

 

The caves in this area were large enough to go into with the Panga. The water was crystal clear, and we could see many fish and even some sea turtles, as well as birds nesting in the rocky shelves within the cave.

 

 

Just outside the cave. We spotted a little Galápagos Lava Heron. This guy was fishing like mad. And then the penguins, and even some of the pelicans tried to steal his fish. 

 

 

I think the Lava Heron was Lou’s favorite-he almost cracked a smile 😊 

 

We watched the Lava Heron for quite a while. Then moved on and saw more Pelicans and several Flightless Cormorant. The cormorants look like the ones we have in Florida, but don’t fly … they hop up and down the rocks, and are very good swimmers. 

 

We caught up with the snorkelers back on the ship.They were pleased with the afternoon, although Catherine said it was a little rough at times. Olivia captured some great photos, but she may be sharing some later, so I will just leave you with a sample for now.

 

Catherine took this nice photo of Olivia as they returned from Snorkeling:

 

That is it for the off-boat activities today. Quite a good selection, and one of the top days of the trip. 

 

Click HERE to read more about our favorite topic, food.

In Search of a Galápagos Giant Tortoise

July 1, 2018 – day 3 morning activity

A hike on Isabela Island was on the agenda right after breakfast. There were whispers we might see giant tortoises, and maybe land iguanas. But no promises were made. We set out in  the Pangas for our first wet landing. Wet landings were usually just a little bit wet. We stepped off the Panga into ankle deep water, and most wet landings were easier than dry landings. 

 

We landed near a small cove which Fernanda said was used as a nursery for young Pelicans.

 

This part of the Island has lots of greenery, even though we were at the beginning of the dry season.

 

The rest took off in several groups for the Big Kid’s Hike, while Amy and I had our own personal guided Kiddie Hike.  Seriously … our Shore Walks (the PC term for our walks) were very good and we saw most of the same things, but missed the higher elevation views of the island.  Fernanda told us about the giant tortoises and explained how we needed to look in the underbrush, because they liked to make little resting spots out of the sun.

 

We kept looking, and hoping to see a giant tortoise, but the closest we got was giant tortoise poop.  

 

We did see birds: a Yellow Warbler, some Darwin Finches, and a Galápagos Mockingbird.

 

We turned a corner and …

There he was!!!  Fernanda thought this was a young male. He just sat there, but looked around and watched as we walked by.

 

He wasn’t the largest tortoise we would see during our visit, but he was the most exciting.  We were very happy to be able to see a giant tortoise in the wild. 

We continued walking and turned another bend to see …

 

 

 

We turned back after seeing this beautiful land iguana, but heard the other hikers saw a few more. It had been a very successful shore walk!

Catherine approves this message.

Click HERE to see how the afternoon unfolds.

Invasion of the Marine Iquanas

June 30, 2018, day 2 afternoon …

We had the option of a hike or Shore Walk on Fernandina Island at Punta Espinoza.  Amy and I picked the Shore Walk.  After a short Panga ride, we arrived at some rock stairs and made a dry landing. 

This is one of the few areas with a short man made walkway to take us through a small swampy area … most of the rest of the area we visited  on this walk was quite dry and arid.  There were only four of us on the Shore Walk, led by Fernanda. 

Soon after stepping onto land we started seeing black marine iguanas  they were oblivious to us, although one twitched when Amy stepped on him (just kidding!)

 

 

 

This is another of our groups … typically 12 in a group with one naturalist guide. Notice the clump of marine iguanas on the right.  All walking areas were marked with stakes to minimize the impact of tour groups.  The animals seemed oblivious to humans in their midst.

 

The Ship’s Doctor, getting up close and personal with a marine iguana (but not too close – We stayed at least two meters away whenever possible).

 

The Doctor insisted on taking my photo …

 

Our first sighting of a Lava Heron … small birds but very active and entertaining. 

 

 

We had to be careful not to step on sleeping Sea Lions (or Fur Seals)

 

 

 

We saw several more birds … a flightless cormorant sitting on a nest, a Galápagos Hawk, and a Great Blue Heron:

 

 

 

 

We ran into a few folks we recognized:

 

 

 

 

We saw the sea turtle swimming near the rocks as we waited for our Panga to take us back to the boat. This post is jam packed with photos, but these are just a sampling of the abundant wildlife we saw while visiting this special place. 

We returned to the Ship after 5pm, just in time for a shower and a refreshing drink. Dinner was served between 7 and 7:30pm.  We sometimes had a naturalist presentation in the afternoon, just before dinner or after dinner. Dinners were sit down affairs, and the food was always good. Dinner included a starter, then there was a choice of of a fish, meat, or vegetarian entree.  This was followed by a fancy dessert or fruit. I will share photos of our dining experience in a future post  

Click HERE to see what prehistoric creatures lie in wait for us.

 

More Morning Fun & Crossing the Equator

June 30, 2018, day 2 on La Pinta continued…

Previous posts shared photos from our early morning Panga Trip. In fact, those are combined photos from a second Panga Tour in the morning. Some of us went back out on the Pangas while others took the first Snorkling Adventure.  The ship had a good selection of shorty wetsuits and all snorkeling gear for guests.

 

Snorkeling took place out in a cove near where we went on the Panga Exploration.  The snorkelers dropped into the water from the Panga.  Claudia, Catherine, and Olivia all rose to the challenge.  

 

A couple photos from Catherine and Olivia … hoping they will share more from later days in the trip:

 

 

After the Snorkeling and Panga rides, we were all called to the top sun deck. It was time to celebrate our first Equator Crossing. I missed some of the explanation, but it seemed to involve jumping back and forth over “the line”while wearing a silly hat and acting silly. We could do that. 

 

 

Olivia led the way, showing us how to jump around while wearing a silly hat. 

 

Once the celebration was over, we hiked down to the dining room for lunch (all staterooms were on Deck 2, the Lounge and Sundeck on Deck 3, and the Dining Room on Deck 1). 

Breakfast and lunch were served buffet style. Chef Darwin and staff often provided customized dishes.  In this case, stir fried rice with a choice of meat and veggies.  In the mornings, they made omelets or eggs to your liking. There were also plenty of other options offered, including choices for vegetarians.

 

 

Click HERE to see if we did more than eat …

More Photos of Isabela … by Lou

Lou took some photos of us in the Panga, and also captured some shots of the Isabela Island landscape.

 

 

Someone looks confused.  “Who is that guy taking our photo?”

 

“Oh, that’s Lou.” (Responding with the over the shoulder backwards wave)

 

 

Lou zoomed in and captured us as we floated close to the cliff.

 

Love this shot … almost other worldly.

Click HERE to cross the equator.