Isla Plazas - The Galapagos
May 6, 2006
|We ate breakfast at 7.30am and then travelled to nearby Bacha's Beach by panga (dingy). The permit still hadn't been issued, but at least we were continuing with the tour.
Bacha's beach involved a wet landing into the water near the beach. The beach was narrow with sand dunes close to the sea. We walked along the beach to a rocky point where there were many sally lightfoot crabs that are coloured red and blue. We spotted an eel slithering amongst the rocks and feeding on the crabs. A pelican sat on the rocks enjoying the views. A sea lion was swimming close to the rocks but didn't venture out of the water.
The panga took us to another beach around the corner where after seeing a solitary flamingo feeding in the lagoon there we swam or snorkelled in the cold waters. A few lucky snorkellers spotted a shark.
A dirty Spaniard on our tour peed on the beach, which was spotted by some park rangers. The rangers swiftly moored their speedboat next to our panga and gave our guide a rollicking for letting it happen.
We returned to The Friendsh for lunch and actually set sail form the port!!
At last we were truly on our way. The sea was calm as we sailed between Isla Santa Cruz and Isla Baltra. A frigate bird soared next to our boat using its tail as a rudder, just above our heads for about 45 minutes.
We drew anchor less than a kilometre from Isla Santa Cruz at Isla Plazas and went by panga to the island for a dry landing onto the rocks. Isla Palzas is a popular stop for day trippers as well as cruises and so the dry landing has been provided to prevent tourists causing erosion to the rocks. We had to take care and step over the sea lions that were sprawled out not only on the rocks but on the landing steps. It was amazing how close we were to them and that they didn't move in our presence. They did occasionally open one eye to make sure we weren't harming their pups.
Most or the sea lions lounging in the sun were females and we could hear their pups suckling for milk. A noisy male sea lion was patrolling the waters to ensure that no other males would come near his harem.
We also had to take care to avoid stepping on the land iguanas that came to greet the boat (in the past, before park rules were in place, passengers used to feed the iguanas bananas. It isn't allowed now, but the iguanas still come to meet the boats in the hope of food). As Paul lay on the rocks to take a picture of one advancing towards him he found that he had to move when the iguana actually met him eye to eye.
The iguanas feed on the succulent cactus pads that fall from the many prickly pear cactus trees dotted around the otherwise desolate island. The iguanas on each island differ slightly because of their upbringing in different environments. On some islands the iguana's are pink because of the algae that they eat.
We then walked up hill to the cliff edge were there was a more subdued group of sea lions. These were older sea lions that had given up the game of fighting for their territory and preferred to live their days out in peace and quiet. It is also where injured sea lions come to see their final days off and unfortunately we saw the remains of a few of those that didn't make it through the day.
As we neared the end of the circular route that is marked out by black and white posting, we came back to the beach and to rocks that were smooth. The rocks had been worn smooth by thousands of years of sea lions pulling themselves along them.
We returned to the boat for dinner. The boat sailed during the night, which is common; it is so that you don't waste time during the day sailing long distances. It gives you more time to enjoy what the islands have to offer.
The sailing that night was particularly choppy as the boat was going rather fast as it had a lot of sea to cover to reach our next island of Española. Helen couldn't sleep for fear that the boat was going to capsize. Paul was woken abruptly when a cold shower of water came through the window and soaked his top bunk. We had the windows open as the air conditioning still wasn't working.