Goodbye Glorious Galapagos! Pacific Passage: Santa Cruz to Hiva Oa, 2980 mile Starts 4th March!
Fourteen days in the remarkable Archipelago of Colon has been one brilliant experience after another. The wildlife and landscapes have been so amazing and diverse that the rest of my diary will mainly be photographs. I am publishing before we set off to sea on the longest non-stop passage of the trip and we are hoping to arrive in French Polynesia around the 22nd March. Follow us on the YB tracker! We attended the prize-giving dinner last night and were delighted to have come first in our division on the last leg!! (Each boat has a rating taken into account as we are all different lengths and specifications.) This part of the Pacific is meant to be less feisty than the Atlantic and we went through the Doldrums on the north of the Equator so will see how much wind we are going to get in the Southern Hemisphere and how well we do this time!
We started our exploration in San Cristobal or Chatham as it was previously called. The WCC office was at a cafe and as we were not allowed to use our 2 stroke outboard engine for the dinghy, even if you took it ashore the sea lions would move in and they are not keen to move out again. So we had to use water taxi's to get to and from the boat.
Sea lions were everywhere, even on the back of the boat despite trying to dissuade them with fenders! Luckily they did not come any further on board as some boats had company in the cockpit and saloon!! They are quite noisy and make strange noises that can sound like a field of sheep or someone burping with bad indigestion! Imagine opening your front door to find...
Iguanas and lava lizards are also everywhere! Including swimming and surfing ones! look closely in the surf above the end of it's tail, the dark shape is another iguana!!
The picture of me (Petra) with a bag was taken on Santa Cruz during a beach clean up organised by a local environmental group! Trying to avoid the iguanas nesting on the beach or resting on the steps is difficult! There are land iguanas and marine iguanas which swim!
We visited a tortoise breeding centre on San Cristobal and saw them breeding!!
Each island has a tortoise centre, there are
11 different species on the islands. Five exist on Isabela, a different species on each of the five volcanos! We saw the Sierra Negro tortoise below, and also had a fantastic 16 km walk to the Sierra Negro volcano which last erupted in 2018!!
Our walk was through delightful countryside, quite green and full of wild flowers, insects and butterflies, until we reached the lava field formed from older eruptions, which was a magnificent landscape.
Diving was also a first class experience in the Galapagos. Our first dive was at Kicker Rock off the West coast of Santa Cruz Island. Seen here from the dive boat!
We had first approached this enormous rock at night and it loomed huge and black out of the darkness as we approached our anchorage.
Our second dive was at Gordon Rock north of Santa Cruz. Both were marvellous experiences, we were used to snorkelling with turtles and rays and lots of colourful fish, which we also saw when diving. However, we also dived amongst lots of sharks, white and black tipped sharks and also hammerhead sharks! I know, I know! How crazy is that? I thought I wouldn't like it and would be scared, but we were with a guide and it was such an amazing experience I forgot to be frightened! I suppose it is a bit like seeing a lion on safari! There were so many fish of all sizes. That's me on the right! The pictures are blurrier than the real life but it gives you an idea!
Bird life is abundant too and the fish market attracted quite a bit of wild life, non of which is frightened of humans. Note the sea lion and heron and pelican, one of many hanging about hopefully.
Not to mention the famous finches which caused Darwin to consider evolution.
We spent a week in San Cristobal before sailing to Santa Cruz 45 miles west. We were only allowed to visit certain anchorages and all the rest of our trips were on local ferries and with local tour operators. So we took a small ferry to Isabela for a two day tour which included the volcano walk, snorkelling and visiting the tortoises as well as a night in a small hotel! Isabela is very chilled as it only has a population of 3000 compared to 10000 in San Cristobal and 28000 in Santa Cruz!
There are 300 Flamingos on Isabela and we managed to see several one morning in the mangroves and then penguins in the afternoon! We even saw a penguin swimming when we went snorkelling. hundreds of Blue Footed Boobies nest nearby and feed by diving into the rich waters! Every day in these islands we have seen something that we have never seen before! It has been the most incredible experience and we will be sorry to leave. The good news is we are heading on to the next amazing place. Land fall is in Hiva Oa, Marquesas, South Pacific. Adios amigos!