Fellow travelers - Although the photo above is only of the Atlantans on the trip, all of our fellow passengers were among the most congenial we have had the privilege of traveling with. I just wish we had thought to get a group photo! There were two Canadians on board (shout out to Elise and Russ), and the rest were from all over the US, with the largest contingents from California and Atlanta. Ages ranged (just guessing here) from early 30's to mid 70's. There were at least 9 physicians, 4 other health professionals, and 4 lawyers on board.
Most of the islands have both Spanish and English names. Within Ecuador the tendency is to use the Spanish names, whereas scientists often use the English names because that is what Charles Darwin used in his research.
In recognition of his contributions to the scientific community, upon his death in 1882 Darwin was buried at Westminster Abbey close to Isaac Newton.
Galapagos penguin - This is one of the smallest penguins in the world, standing only about 12 inches high. It is the only one to breed entirely within the tropics and is the only one in the Northern hemisphere. The Humbolt current (see below) supplies the cold waters that it prefers. Penguins mate for life. They live in colonies, feeding on small fish and crustaceans.
Humbolt current - This is a cold current that flows north-westward along the coast of South America from the tip of Chile up to the Galapagos. Its cold nutrient rich waters are extremely productive. A major upswelling of this current at the Galapagos accounts for the rich marine life and ecosystem observed there.
Day 8 - Baltra and Disembarkation
All too soon, it was time to leave. Yes, the dreaded day of disembarkation had arrived. To make matters worse, it was an early morning departure so the crew could ready the Islander for new passengers that would be boarding only a few hours after our departure. Steve Ewing distributed the Expedition DVDs chronicling our voyage (thanks Steve!), staff transported our luggage, and soon we were off to the Baltra airport.
So, do you wonder where we had been? Here's our itinerary, day by day:
And here's a map showing the course of our voyage:
Yes, you're right: there's a whole group of islands to the west that we did not visit. Beginning in 2012, the Galapagos National Park Service instituted a more restrictive plan to reduce the environmental stress of tourism. Tour operators cannot visit a site more frequently than once every two weeks; accordingly, most now rotate between two itineraries on a weekly basis. The week that we were on board, the Islander followed their eastern Galapagos itinerary. The following week they will visit islands on the western side of the archipelago. Generally, visitors will see the same animals regardless which itinerary they are on. The only exceptions are the waved albatross (seen only on the eastern itinerary, and only certain times of year) and the flightless cormorant (seen only on the western itinerary).
What? No flightless cormorants on our trip? I think that's a good reason to return - don't you?
Although our journey was finished you can click on "More" in the header at the top of this page to read more about the Islander and delivery of the postcard we picked up at the Floreana mail barrel. You can email me with comments or questions.
Here are some parting shots from our disembarkation...
As I reflect back on our visit to these enchanted isles, I leave you with these parting words about the Galapagos that so clearly describe what I am feeling...
“Nor even at the risk of meriting the charge of absurdly believing in enchantments can I restrain the admission that sometimes, even now, when leaving the crowded city to wander out July and August among the Adirondack Mountains, far from the influences of towns and proportionally nigh to the mysterious ones of nature; when at such times I sit me down in the mossy head of some deep-wooded gorge, surrounded by prostrate trunks of blasted pines, and recall, as in a dream, my other and far-distant rovings in the baked heart of the charmed isles, and remember the sudden glimpses of dusky shells, and long languid necks protruded from the leafless thickets; and again have beheld the vitreous inland rocks worn down and grooved into deep ruts by ages and ages of the slow draggings of tortoises in quest of pools of scanty water; I can hardly resist the feeling that in my time I have indeed slept upon evilly enchanted ground.”