Well this is probably the hardest blog I´ve written as I just don´t think words will do the place justice but here goes...
From the minute we arrived the Galapagos is different and amazing, landing on an uninhabited islands in to tropical weather and with giant grasshoppers covering all the welcome signs! Even the short 10 min bus ride to get over to the main island you see pelicans, friget birds and bright red giant crabs just hanging about all over the place, completely unphased by us.
We then had a ride to the port to meet our boat and in all honesty the 11 of us in the minibus just sat staring with our mouths open as more birds and volcanic landscapes appear and then as you enter the only town on Santa Cruz there are sealions just hanging about on the dockside and more pelicans (which are about 80-100cm high!) waddling about hoping for off cuts from local fishermen, quite incredible and we´d been there less than an hour!
We got on to the boat and were greeted with a 3 course lunch (the most luxury we´ve experienced in 3 months!) but before we could sit down to enjoy that we both had to pop our seasickness pills as we realised neither of us were going to make good sailors!! Luckily though that was about the roughest weather we experienced and the royal treatment continued for the whole trip, so much so that we had to keep pinching ourselves that we were actually here.
That afternoon we went back to the main island to the Charles Darwin research centre, which I got very giddy about as thats where Lonesome George lives, and hes the most famous tortoise in the world (to which our guide had to crack his well worn joke of "well after the 4 ninja turtles of course") but George was hidding, however, in true South American "there are no rules" style our guide told us how to get to the keepers path which we could sneak along on for a better chance of finding him; on the condition that if we got caught we had to act dumb and DEFINATELY weren´t there with a guide. Half of it worked - we got to see George but we did get caught - naughty naughty.
As you can tell I could chat about this place forever but instead I´ll just put a few of our highlights down:
The fact that every time we thought "what can we posibly see next?" we would see something different! from how every island was different; black, red, golden or white sand depending on the minerals from its volcano, to how the evolution was so obvious, some places looked like the moon still while others where lush green. The lava created different types of coast line depending on how it had hit the coast, rocky outcrops with amazing reefs, lagoons with flamingos in made out of old craters, to swampy mangroves where it created stagnent pools which of course therefore meant completely different animals again! and all of this is before you´ve even looked below the surface!
Below the surface, were incredible coloured fish, in such large numbers in some places that it was almost intimidating, sharks are also the norm but luckily we only saw baby ones as I think I´d have freaked out a bit at seeing the adults! Octopus and starfish were here and there, although sometimes people were trying to point things out at you and it could have been one or it might just have been a piece of seaweed or a shadow as there was so much going on down there that it was difficult to take it all in.
and of course the absolute best bit THE ANIMALS! everything here is bigger, brighter, or odder!
The sealions, were very inquisitive and playful, they would knudge people and sniff around you, while the bulls have to show you whos females they are! They smell and are awkward on the beaches but one of the times we went snorkelling one of them swam straight through Chris´s legs while another one was doing loop-the-loops in front of us!! absolutely amazing and a memory we´ll never forget.
The turtles, more timid than the sealions but gorgeous, they glided through the water like they were flying and had beautifully coloured shells. However, while there were everwhere, alongside the boats, in the mangroves and the lava pools, they were probably the hardest thing to photograph and had me snapping away like a right idiot while the ribs bobbed up and down and still to little avail.
Second hardest to photograph where the blue footed boobies doing their kamikasi diving for fish, all I got after an hour of trying was a decent splash, but they were fantastic and put on a good show for us. I don´t know how my Granny managed to paint them, as they didn´t stay still for long, but it was also nice to be reminded of her trip out here years ago.
Our other amazing snorkelling moment was swimming with penguins - well trying to keep up with penguins! v v fast even if they do waddle on land. And I was going to say that they were the cutest animals we saw out there, that was until one of them projectile shat at us!!! not so cute afterall.
We topped all these days off with sunbathing, watching bright red sunsets and staring at the equatorial stars - as its the only place you can see the big dipper of the northern hemisphere at the same time as the southern cross! It truely is hard to describe, all we would say is that if you´ve ever wanted to go, and you have some way of doing it, DO IT. We felt like we left earth for a week and had a sneaky peak at another world and we don´t think theres anywhere else you could do that. Without a doubt the highlight of our trip so far.