Today was all about the birds with a trip to North Seymour, which is close to the airport. Although it’s hardly a busy island – you’d barely notice the couple of planes landing every day to drop off and pick up excitable tourists – North Seymour is just as untouched and beautiful as the rest of the Galapagos.
This morning after a hearty breakfast of Ecuadorian eggs (with spices and cheese) on board the Silver Galapagos, we hit the ‘long’ walking trail on North Seymour, which isn’t exactly a workout but takes a couple of hours to amble around.
Today was my first sighting of blue-footed boobies, the bird which had captured my imagination as a child and still fascinates me today. As expected, when I finally did lay eyes on one I was wide-eyed. They are truly some of the most beautiful, unusual and hilarious birds I’ve seen.
I was captivated by their showy mating dance which is more like a clumsy waddle, showing off their feet as they go. According to our guide Jorge, the females are looking for the bluest feet possible in a male, as the bluer they are, the healthier they’re likely to be.
We also saw a large colony of Frigate birds – the males proudly showing off their inflated red necks in the hope of scoring with the ladies, and the females looking pretty unimpressed. Still, some of their magic must have worked as there were babies everywhere!
North Seymour is also home to countless land iguanas, some of which were nearly a metre long, but so still and well-camouflaged that you had to be careful not to step on them along the path!
Back on the ship, we decided to take it easy and relax in our cabin for a little while, but within minutes of getting settled, the loud speaker came on:
“Ladies and gentlemen, if you go to the port side of the ship you’ll see a breaching Humpback Whale in the bay.”
Well, I’ve never moved so fast. Even the staff were out on the deck, chatting excitedly, and you know you’re in for something special when even the staff are excited about something.
We watched it display for a few minutes and then our expedition leader Javier asked if we’d like to go out on a zodiac to see it a little closer. Well, of course we would! I could barley hold in the squeals of joy as we came within around 10 metres of this immense beast. You could feel the power of the wave as it broke through the water and crashed back down with an almighty splash!
I have so, so many photos of this amazing moment, all a little blurry thanks to being unbalanced and of course freaking out about being capsized. What an incredible moment to behold!!!! We were then lucky enough to spot a pair of Galapagos penguins sunning themselves on a rock.
This afternoon we were in for a real treat… The chance to walk on a 100 year old lava field at Sullivan Bay in Santiago. The active volcano erupted as recently as 1897 and spread lava thinly over the island, killing everything in its path.
As it cooled, it created the most incredible patterns, some almost rope-like, and some like tiny boulders ready to break off at any moment.
The landscape was like nothing I’d ever seen… Large and flat, covered in misshapen rock, with cracks and crevasses strewn throughout. We walked over this cooled rock and were absolutely astonished with every step. I think it took me almost twice as long as others, as I couldn’t stop taking photos!
Today was one of the good days, to be forever etched in my memory. I’m so grateful for this incredible opportunity to be surrounded by such majestic creatures and amazing landscapes. I couldn’t wait to find out what was in store for the rest of the week!
Disclaimer: I travelled to the Galapagos with Latin Routes, who I also work for.