Galapagos Islands Photo Tour Oct 2nd Quito to Baltra the tour begins ...

October 2nd, 2011

Sunday October 2nd ... Blog Entry Quito to Baltra and setting sail,

We had an early departure from the hotel as our 2.5 hour flight for the Galapagos Islands departed at 7:40 a.m. in the morning.  We flew via Quayaquil an Ecuador coastal city.  We landed on Baltra Island Airport which is part of the Galapagos Islands.  It’s one of those airports that you come in over water and wonder when the runway is going to start and by the time the jet stops you are on the other end of the island looking at the ocean again.

We were met by some of the crew from the Coral I ship which will now be our home for the next seven days.  We traveled across the Island to the port where we were fitted with life vests, then took zodiac’s that shuttled to our ship.  

After boarding and finding our cabins, we had lunch.  By then our luggage had arrived and we were able to change and board the zodiacs to head back to shore to visit Darwin Research Station to visit the world’s oldest tortoise Lonsome George or in spanish Solitario Jorge.  .  He is also the last of his species the Pinta Island tortise and is estimated to be over 100 years old.

Here at the station they also breed the tortoise and once they reach a certain age, release them back to the wild thus preserving the island’s population.  One of the biggest enemies of the tortoise is the rats that can be found on the islands. The rats are not part of the natural population but came to the islands many years ago onboard sailing ships visiting the islands from the mainland.  The rats eat the eggs thus affecting the population of tortoise.  By they way George is kept with two female species of tortoise and although two eggs have been produced, due to the difference in DNA no babies.  A $10,000 dollar reward is being offered by the research station if a female of the same species is ever found.

After our visit to the station, we had some time to walk back into the village of Port Ayora to take some additional photographs and visit some shops.  Even here at the port you could find many sea lions, marine iguana and interesting birds.

Around five in the evening we were shuttled back to the ship for dinner, an orientation meeting for our next days events and then we set sail for an over night navigation to our first island the Island of Espanola.  I will include a map on each day of the blog showing the location and the distance we sailed each day.

Just before I close off today ... I want to point out that after the joke Nancy McRae played on me at the airport prior to departing from Toronto, the game seemed to be on with my new best friend Mr. Bill Coombes.  As we road the bus from Baltra Airport to to Port Ayora where we boarded our ship, Bill was sitting behind me.  I had my right hand over my shoulder holding onto the seat while speaking with Randy Van Hooren who was seated beside me.  When we got to the port Bill said “James I’ve heard that sometimes when folk visit tropical regions the sudden change in temperature affects their finger nails and they change colour.”  I just happened to look down and my hand and my finger nails where black, which took me by shock at first.  Then realizing that while he was sitting behind me he had borrowed a black permanent marker and done the deed while I was talking.

More to this story as the week unfolds ... Bill stay on your guard.

Enjoy the images from our first day, and check back tomorrow as we share images from our visit to the breathtaking island of Espanola and Gardner Bay.

Map ... We arrived at Baltra Airport, then traveled across the Island of Santa Cruz to Port Ayora.  Then overnight we sailed from Port Ayora to the Island of Esponola.



Dick Blosdale in Quito airport waiting for his boarding pass.


Jim and Paul on the transfer bus that took us out on the airfield to board our flight. 


The view from our flight of the mountains as we flew out of Quito.  Quito airport is located close to the centre of the city and is considered one of the top seven most difficult airports to land and take off from in the world.  One minute you are over the mountains the next descending over the city to land.


Snow capped ...


This is our first look from the air at the beautiful Galapagos Islands.  There are thirteen majour islands that make up the region located 1089 KM or 677 Miles off the mainland coast of Ecuador, in South America.


The Islands from above, notice all volcanic rock.  This is how the islands were formed.


Dick and Janice arriving on the island ... is that Charles Darwin in the white beard?


Jim and Brenda as they take their first look around the island.


Joyce, Dan and Tom can be seen coming off the rear of the aircraft.


We then took a short bus ride to the ferry that crossed from the island of Baltra to Santa Cruz.  Please note that's our Diane already hanging out the window of the bus taking images.


Port Ayora as we arrived.


Our zodiac driver Luis transfers us to the ship.  Karen and Bonnie hold on ...


Erika and Sandi as we head out into the bay for our first look at the ship.


Joyce who are you taking the photo of?


The first view of our ship the Coral I.  She is a motorized yatch with 18 cabins, for 36 guests and a crew of 12 and two Galapagos Islands Naturalists.  This will be our own private cruiser around the islands and home for the next seven days.


First time getting out of the zodiacs and onto the ship.  As the week passes you develope a nack for doing this.


Of course beginners luck, Brenda gets a soaker the first time landing.


Marine Iguana on the rocks just at the waters edge in the port.


An HDR shot of the sea lions along the dock.


The tortoise at Darwin Station.


Joyce, Lorna and Nancy photographing along the board walk at Darwin Station.


Maria catching a shot of the tortise.


These guys are big, this is not Lonsome George, althought we did see him, he kept his back to us the whole time.


More tortoise at the Darwin Station.  Sometimes you just get so tired of carrying you house on your back.


After our visit to the station we walked back into the village and had some time to take more images.  Guess who the two people in the image are?  Answer in tomorrows blog.


Catus with an interesting background.


Some children from the village.


Many colourful boats in the harbour.


Retruning to the ship for dinner and departure.  The sunsets happened very quickly each night.


Each evening after dinner we gather in the lounge for refreshments and a briefing on the next days activities.  Terri, Randy, Kate, Frank, Ron and Nancy can be seen in this shot.


More of the group waiting to learn about tomorrow's acitivities.  Lorna, Jim, Robert and Erika can be seen in the image.


The Captian took some time for introductions of the crew, left to right, George one of the Naturalist that were on board and joined us on the islands each day, Captain Patric and Doneti the hotel manager onboard the ship.  Tom looks like he's applying for first mate?  Bill's in the corner still in trouble for the black ink I can't remove from my finger nails...


Head Chef and the rest of the staff who prepare the great meals that are served three times a day onboard the ship.


Good Night from the Galapagos Islands ... 


Posted by Kelly on
Wow!!!! Can't wait to see the rest...and I my suspicions as to who the shadows are but I'd much rather know WHAT they're doing???
Posted by Ross Blakey on
Wonderful!!! Can't wait for the next day's blog...
Posted by Fran on
WOW----- What a beautyful introduction to your trip to the Galapagos Islands 
I like to thank you all for sharing it.
May the comming days of your Adventures be all you hope for.
Smooth sailing and may God keep you all safe.
Posted by Lisa Dalton on
GREAT start ... I look forward to following along.
Posted by Joann Skeavington on
Very nice, thanks for sharing.