Galapagos day 1, aboard the Santa Cruz, around San Cristobal

Another early morning. Are you sure this is vacation?!?

We woke up at 05:00 to get to the airport for our flight to the Galapagos islands. The airport experience was a little confusing. We were supposed to have our luggage checked for quarantine, then pay for the luggage check ($10), then meet our guide who had the boarding passes, then check our luggage, then security check. But no one was manning step 1, so we felt a little uncertain standing there with one other group, until more people showed up. The line became very long before the desk was opened, but everything proceeded smoothly from there.

The landing on San Cristobal was interesting. We descended, then suddenly swung upwards, circled the island rather wobbly, then came in for another descent and finally landing. This odd arrival has been a recurring conversation among the 57 of us experiencing the Galapagos aboard the Santa Cruz this week.

Immediately upon leaving the airport, we were put onto a minibus for a short drive through town to our boarding site. There was an aquatic iguana right there, as well as many sea lions and many varieties of birds.

We boarded our ship via small rafts called pangas, which are quite pleasant. We wear life vests and the kind staff takes care of getting us on and off safely.

On board, we were greeted with warm towels and fresh juice, then escorted individually to our cabins. Our luggage was brought shortly later. We have a room with twin beds because the double beds were booked.

We learned the rules of our experience in the lounge, where we sat with our new friend Tanja, who we’d met in the airport.

Lunch was quite a spread, but everything had bell peppers in it, so my plan to not tell anyone about my allergy didn’t work out. There was no eating around them, unless I wanted a perpetually unhappy tummy.

This is our ship as we left for our first excursion, on the other side of San Cristobal, to Punta Pitt. We were given a choice between snorkeling/swimming then a quick hike then a panga trip, or a normal-paced hike and panga trip, or just a panga trip. Matt and I are still nursing sunburns, so we skipped the snorkeling today and opted instead for the hike and panga.

We went first to an offshore rock where we watched various animals, including these baby sea lions, doing what they do.

This is a male frigate, puffing out his red throat in order to attract a mate. Frigates are huge, and steal food from other birds in the air.

Matt was particularly charmed by these red crabs that were all over the rock, just above the water.

We made a wet landing on the beach of San Cristobal, hopping over the sides of he panga into knee-deep water and heading ashore to put hiking shoes on.

It’s a little tricky to see here, but that’s a pretty good cliff edge just past the STOP sign.

Here’s Matt followed by Roger and Tanja. Roger and his friends, including 84-year-old Frank, recently returned from a trip to Antarctica. We’ve been enjoying chatting with them very much.

In the distance you can see people standing where we will soon stand, and returning along a trail we will soon follow.

When we got back to the beach, the sea lions were flopping around contentedly.

After we got back, we showered and enjoyed happy hour with our fellow travelers. Then announcements, welcome cocktails, and finally dinner. Dinner was delicious, and was made without bell peppers just for me. Hurray! After dinner, we’re back in our rooms. It’s now 22:15, but wake up is at 07:00 and I’m exhausted.

This has been a wonderful day.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Galapagos, Ecuador