Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Santiago and Bartolome Islands

02 December 2011

Our overnight journey south across the Equator again was long and rough with the boat pitching and rolling all night.  In the morning we found ourselves in calmer seas anchored close to the small island of Bartolome.  This island is relatively new, and mainly consists of volcanic cones with little or no vegetation on it.

Penguin watching on Bartolome

Straight out of bed, we clambered into the dinghys and went out looking for Galapagos Penguins.  There is a small breeding colony on Bartolome and we found them fairly quickly.  We all mananged to take a few photographs from the dinghys before the penguins flung themselves into the water to start their daily feeding session.

Galapagos Penguins

Back on Galapagos Voyager, we had breakfast and sorted ourselves our for our next expedition.  Meanwhile the boat had moved closer to neighbouring Santiago Island.

Galapagos Penguin

We had a 'wet landing' at Sullivan bay on the island and went out to explore the lava formations.  It was very hot walking around on the lava, not from the lava, but from the sun!  There were ropes of lava, pools of lava, spatter-cones and collapsed lava bubbles, all very interesting, but very dry and arid.

Lava Ropes with vegetation trying to take hold

Back on the beach at Sullivan Bay, we were very pleased to go snorkelling to cool down.  As usual, there were plenty of reef fish swimming around.  Some of our party saw a turtle and one lucky soul saw a penguin swimming underwater.After cooling down in the water, we headed back to the boat for an early lunch.  We have a long sail ahead of us this afternoon back to Santa Cruz.

After lunch we got back in the dinghys and had a 'dry landing' on Bartolome.  A walkway has been built from the shore all the way to the summit of the volcano.  It was quite a steep climb, but the views on the way up and from the top were well worth it.  After several photo stops, we headed back down to the jetty, got on the dinghys and headed back to the boat.

Galapagos Voyager from Bartolome Island

Before we had even reached the boat, it had pulled up the anchor and come across to meet us. Once on board, the dinghys were hoisted up onto the boat and we headed off.

View from the summit of Bartolome

Our route took us from Bartolome, around to the north of Baltra, through the sound between Baltra and Seymour and then down the east coast of Santa Cruz.  Most of us sat in the loungers on the middle deck and kept our eyes open for whales, dolphins and birds!  Whilst we didn't see any of the first two, we did, as usual, have an escort of frigate birds follow us most of the way.  They cruise just about the boat and exactly the same speed.  One eventually came and landed on edge of one of the dinghys, right alongside us!

Male Frigate bird

We had a final evening briefing at 6.30 and said our goodbyes to the crew and then ate dinner whilst the boat was still sailing.  Fortunately, it was a fairly smooth sea!

Not long after dinner, we anchored up in Santa Cruz harbour from where we had set off a week previously.  There were offers to run us ashore, but everyone declined as we had packing to do.  As usual, everyone headed from bed fairly early, know that it would be a quiet and stable night moored in the harbour!

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