Helen and Paul World Tour 2005/06 travel blog

As featured on many Galapagos postcards - The Pinnacle

A penguin pose at Isla Bartolome

At Isla Bartolome two penguins stand to attention - we got to...

A penguin swimming like a duck on water

Helen gets in another pose with a baby sea lion

Nearing the top of Bartolome the scenery is stunning

Paul manages to block out most of the beautiful scenery!

The different colours in the scenery was beautiful

The summit of Bartolome is reached and more postcard pics are replicated...

View from Bartolome

Galapagos penguin

Our final sunset on the Galapagos

We awoke to views of the teetering dagger of Pinnacle Rock - well you could see it if you stuck you head to the small portholes in your cabin.

The panga took us to a dry landing (past four penguins laid on the rocks) so that we could walk the many man made steps to the lighthouse at the top of a volcanic cone that was now covered in ash. From here we had spectacular views of the contrasting colours of the oceans waters against the islands white sands.

The walk down the steps was easier than the ascent, whilst waiting for the panga we could see penguins swimming in the water below. The penguin population in the Galapagos was seriously effected by the last El Niño.

We then snorkelled around the submerged rocks near the Pinnacle Rock, the highlight of which was when the panga driver (who stays on hand in case anyone needs help) pointed out a group of about 10 penguins. We were first on the scene and had the penguins all to ourselves for 5 minutes; Helen completely forgot that sharks may be on the prowl as we followed the penguins. They were zipping around flapping their little wings to propel themselves through the water catching tiny fish to nibble on. Every now and then they would pop their heads out of the water when they would look like little ducks bobbing about.

As we moved away from the penguins we met a male sea lion with his mate head on as we turned a corner of a rock - yikes!! That was quite a scary moment but he passed without any concern. A few more sea lions passed by before we arrived at a beach from where we clumsily got into the panga. It was Helen's starring moment as she lifted herself into the panga and managed to flash her white bum to everyone when the water dragged her bikini bottoms down!! Some people had nightmares that night!!

The Galapagos Archipelego is extremely close to the equator but the weather does change depending on the season. The seasons are produced by two moving sea currents, which affect the islands. The cold Humboldt Current produces the cool and dry garúa season from June to November and the warm marine Panama Current, which produces the warm and wet season from December to May. At least we were in the warm wet season when the water is warmer for us to snorkel in.

The warmer waters cause the layer of water left from the cool season to break up, and the Galapagos experience a more typical tropical climate with blue skies and occasionally heavy showers. In some years, the flow of warm water is much greater than normal, and an "El Niño" year results. Surface water temperatures are higher and rainfall can increase greatly. Life on land blossoms but seabirds and sea life (mainly the little penguins and the marine iguanas), which depend on the more productive, cooler waters, may experience dramatic drops in numbers because of lack of food.

After snorkelling with penguins we declined the offer to walk on rocks made from lava flows on a different island and Helen also declined to go for another snorkel when the clouds got darker - well nothing was going to beat the last snorkel!! Paul went for the last snorkel of the trip but the sun had gone in making it cold and difficult to see anything, although he did snorkel next to a giant manta ray. Early to bed that night as we were scheduled to get up at 5.30am on our last day.

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