Galapagos part 2

The cruise dropped me off in the small town on San Cristobal and I spent the day wandering around. I quite liked the town itself and the presence of hundreds of sea lions lining the pavements of the boulevard made it more appealing so I decided that instead of returning to Santa Cruz I would stay for the next few days, do a bit of diving and change my flight back, so it was from airport on San Cristobal (changing the flight was only $20 and very easy to do).

So I booked myself into a hotel (only $10 a night, dispelling the myth about how expensive the Galapagos is) and me and Edwin hit the Friday night scene. Somewhat surprisingly you can have a good party on the Galapagos – this is after all still South America. The next day I did a bit of wandering around and sorting out my dive trips.

I had a arranged a couple of afternoon dives on the Sunday so on recommendation from a few people I spent the morning at a beach by the name of La Loberia (sea lion refuge) which was a 30 minute walk away from the town. The beach has white sands and has a reputation for great snorkelling.  I braved the chilly water without a westsuit and almost as soon as I got in I was rewarded by spotting a couple of HUGE sea turtles.  One of the best sea creatures to see swimming in my opinion – very graceful.  I also got to do a bit of swimming around in the shallows with a group of young friendly sea lions which was great fun, but I was looking forward to swimming around in deeper stuff with them.

Sea Turtle swimming around:

This guy was Herrrruuuuge!

Little pup flapping across the rocks:

If you listen closely on 7 seconds the sealion appears to say hello! 😉

Lazy buggers:

Now over my time travelling I had developed a rather foolish habit of not wearing sun tan cream on the assumption that I had developed super-human skin when I was diving in Honduras (where it was super hot and I never burned, even without sun-tan cream). In the Galapagos the temperature is misleading due to the Antarctic Humboldt current which makes the sea temperature similar to that of England and brings in a fresh breeze – making the Equatorial sun not feel so strong. Well after the morning at the sea lion beach I realised how stupid I had been as my back was soooo sore and I could hardly lie on it (over the next week or so all the skin peeled off which made me appear to have some horrendous skin condition – not pretty). Anyway, lesson learned and I now use sun cream all the time, honest.

The first two dives I did on San Cristobal were around the local harbour and it was just me and my guide, Flavio. The first dive I got a taste of how bloody cold the water was and after a fairly uninteresting dive I came up with dampened enthusiasm for the next dive which was a 100 year old wreckage of a coal boat. After the surface interval I got back in the water with a bit of trepidation and this time it felt even colder! I was rubbing my arms and shaking my legs to get warm all the time. This dive was a bit more interesting as the wreckage was absolutely massive; the propeller alone was 5 metres in height, which made this the biggest wreckage I had ever seen and over the whole dive we were constantly finding different bits that had broken off and been carried by the current over the years. Despite this I was still really chilly and the wildlife was quite underwhelming; until the last 15 minutes. My guide spotted a turtle and despite going against my PADI training I decide to give chase to warm myself up a bit. It was just when I was on his tail that I turned to see where the guide was and noticed a slick black shape that seemed to be encircling him. Focusing in a noticed it was a sea lion! Awesome, I gave up on the turtle and returned to play with the sea lioness, but after a couple of minutes she darted off and my heart dropped. It was when she returned and did the same thing a couple of minutes later I realised what was going on: she was surfacing to get air and returning as quick as she could to play with her new diving buddies! This was undoubtedly the highlight of my trip and it was such a pleasure to have this beautiful, graceful animal playing around with us at 15m under the Galapagos seas. I only wish I had my underwater camera working but on the previous dives I had run into condensation issues and not taken it for this dive. Not something I will be forgetting soon anyway.

The next day I was diving again but this time on the very popular trip to the relatively faraway dive site: Kickers Rock. This has the reputation for mainly one thing: sharks! So after swapping wetsuits for one which felt like I was wrapped in a suit of marshmallows I set out with a 12-strong group of snorkellers and divers. The first stop was Isla de Lobos (Sea lion Island) which was to test out the weights for our proper dive and to have a but of a snorkel. Well as I had the THICKEST SUIT EVER I needed to add significantly more weights in order to make me sink and when I returned the scuba equipment to the boat and went for a snorkel in the suit I found it almost impossible to swim as I was practicality floating on the water and my fins were just slapping ineffectually against the surface. I was glad – I had picked the right suit!

Onto the dive sites and the two dives were awesome. Massive shoals of sharks come swarming through a canyon at about 12m down so at points you are practically surrounded by white-tipped reef sharks and Galapagos sharks. In addition we also spotted a Manta Ray flying by above, a sea lion darting by and a few swimming turtles. On the second dive I also caught a couple of fleeting glimpses of the hammerhead of a Hammerhead shark. It was a lot warmer in my boiler suit as well.

Back on San Cristobal I just one night left on the island so enjoyed an awesome BBQ dinner with the guys I had met on the diving trip.

The following day I was catching a flight to the high altitude city of Quito on the Ecuador mainland.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

The route:

%d bloggers like this: