In the morning we went on a panga ride (also known as a dinghy!) around the Marielas Islands, three small islets in Elizabeth Bay. On the islands and surrounding the islands, we saw penguins, Nazca boobies, blue-footed boobies, flightless cormorants, and red sunstars. From there we headed over to the shore of Isla Isabela and were taken into some mangroves and a small bay. The mangroves there were both red and black. There were tonnes of sea turtles swimming in the bay and a sea lion sleeping up in the mangrove roots. The locals call these sea lions monkey sea lions because they have adapted to climbing up and resting on the roots of the trees instead of climbing onto a beach or rocks as most would. On the way out of the bay we saw a penguin swimming and a lava heron on the shore.
In the morning we went for a walk on Punta Espinosa, on Isla Fernandina. From the dinghy along the shore we saw flightless cormorants, penguins, pelicans, sea lions and some sea turtles swimming in the water. Once on land, the first thing we saw was a nesting ground for marine iguanas. And thousands of iguanas! The iguanas were sunning themselves on the rocks, piled on top of each other. It was incredible. We would see one huge group, walk on a few more meters and see another huge group. We passed various types of mangroves, a Galapagos hawk and oyster catchers. We passed by a small bay, where there were hundreds of fish jumping now and then out of the water, as well as two sea turtles mating (apparently the whole process can take hours!). There was also a whale skeleton set out on the rocks at one point. Apparently it had been carried there and re-assembled at some point, but had been there so long it was bleached pure white. This island was again one very recently formed by volcanic activity, in fact, Fernandina is the youngest of the islands.
In the morning we went for a walk on North Seymour Island. We had to make a very early start to the day, because today we were dropping about half the passengers off at the airport and picking up a bunch more. The main animal life on this island consisted of birds. There were a lot of nesting grounds, where small babies and immature birds were growing up. We saw blue footed boobies, frigate birds with their red throats inflated (the males do this to attract a mate) and lava gulls. We also saw some crabs and sea lions with very small babies (probably almost newborn) trying to feed from their mothers.
In the morning we walked on a trail for about 1.5h on Santa Fe Island. We saw lots of sea lions, land iguanas (which are different from marine iguanas – they are yellow and red in colour and live exclusively on land, whereas the marine iguanas are black and have to go into the ocean to eat algae as their food source), some amazing cacti, a tree called the palo santo (the sap is burned as incense), crabs, lots of birds like the oyster catcher, finches, a rare gull (the guide couldn’t remember its name it was that rare!), pelicans, and yellow finches.
We started our first full day in the Galapagos at Puerto Suarez on Isla Espanola. After breakfast we headed to the island and went for a walk. As soon as we got off the dinghy we were greeted by sea lions. We headed over to a small beach, where there were even more sea lions. It was incredible how close we were! We were always supposed to keep 2m between the animals and ourselves, but sometimes that was actually impossible because they would be right on a trail. We walked for probably about 2 hours, stopping often to watch animals and birds.
The main reason we decided to go to Ecuador was to see the Galapagos Islands. We figured this was probably a once in a lifetime trip, so we took a one-week tour on a boat through the islands. There are both shorter and longer tours, but I think the week-long trip was a good length. The trip was amazing; it definitely exceeded our expectations. Our boat, the Archipel I, was a 16-passenger motor driven catamaran. We had a local naturalist guide trained in the ecology of the Galapagos who was very knowledgeable. The accommodations on the boat were quite comfortable, and the food was excellent.
Dave and I just got home for a three-week vacation in Ecuador. We had been hoping to go on this trip for a couple of years now. Originally, we had wanted to go for our honeymoon, but after realizing how much our wedding was going to cost, we opted for a cheaper option! So, about two years later it was finally the right time, with Dave done his MBA and enough vacation time in the bank. It was an amazing trip, and I will write about it in several posts because there is so much to say! We also have a tonne of photos.
Hello again! I am currently in Dhaka, Bangladesh on my final trip for the current project we have here. The project is ending in December, so I won’t be back again for this project. I thought the last trip here might be my last, but it wasn’t! I flew through Dubai again on Emirates (on the A380…such a nice plane – so spacious! It really is nice even though there are more than 500 people on it). I landed in Dubai on Thursday evening, and my flight to Dhaka wasn’t until 1pm on Friday, so I decided to take advantage of those few hours and see a bit of the city. I’ve stopped over in Dubai several times now, but have never really seen any of it except the airport and the hotels where I stayed.
Dave and I spent 10 days in the beautiful province of Newfoundland at the end of August / beginning of September. It was a lovely little holiday – a much needed break, and a great trip. We went primarily for Dave’s cousin Sarah’s wedding, and decided to make a vacation out of it. I had never been to NL before, and Dave had only been to the Western side of the island. We had great weather and were able to do a lot of hiking and sightseeing as we drove across the province.
Dave and I bought road bikes this spring and after a few months decided that we would like to take part in the Rona MS Bike Tour. The tour is a fundraiser for the MS Society of Canada, and offers riders various options from a 1day 65km ride to Kemptville, to a 2day 185km ride. We opted for the longest route, which consisted of 120km on day 1 and 65km on day 2, for a total of 185 km over 2 days.