View from the Top

Blue Boobies and Red Breasts
Spitting Distance

Every day so far the skies have been grey and dismal. It actually is the perfect condition for photographing wildlife because you don’t get shadows or harsh light. But today the emphasis was on landscape more than animals, so a blue sky was on order. Despite overnight rain and a cloudy start to the day, we had a sunny day with blue skies and as you can see in the photos, blue, blue water.

We travelled by bus and boat again, this time to the tiny island of Bartolome. If we were hoping for calm waters again we were very disappointed as there was a rolling swell that got bigger as the day progressed. By the journey home waves were actually splashing right up onto the top deck. But we must be getting our sea legs, as we all seemed fine today.

On the way we passed very close the the small island of Daphne Major, to see nesting colonies of another type of Booby called Nazcar Boobies. More photo ops, more interesting wildlife sightings!

Blue-footed booby and sea lion, frigatebird catching a fish, island landscape, Nazcar boobies building a nest

We were in for yet another change of scenery today. Bartolome is one of the “younger” islands, and almost totally devoid of any plant or animal life. All the islands here are volcanic, but Bartolome still has had little erosion, and the surface is rocks in the lovely swirly patterns of the lava flow. There is a convenient boardwalk right to the top of the highest point on the island, so our guide David led us up, with geology & geography lessons along the way. The views all around were stunning, but the icing on the cake was the view from the top which was just breathtaking – it is said to be the most photographed spot in the Galápagos. The recognisable landmark is the Pinnacle, a large shard of volcanic rock that perches on the edge of the ocean, but the turquoise waters and volcanic peaks made for a striking vista. Well worth the climb!

Fabulous views, getting off the tender, Jan & Rex enjoying the scenery, the path up the hill

The view from the top of Bartolome

We stayed at the top for quite a while taking photos (of course). Two other small tour groups arrived while we were there – suddenly our little patch of wilderness was quite crowded! We always attract a bit of attention from other tourists because we all have pretty serious cameras – the looks we get are quite amusing at times.

Endemic grasshopper, lava patterns, the hardy lava cactus, and a lava lizard

When we reached the bottom the tender was waiting to take us back to our boat. After a very short ride we were dropped off at Santiago Island, and taken for a clamber across the lava, where we stopped to look at the fascinating formations, until we arrived at a pretty beach for some snorkelling. We are starting to get the hang of our underwater cameras, the photos are a lot better today.

Parrot Fish, Green Sea Urchins, and some other fish (I need to look them up!)

These early starts mean we fit a lot in by lunchtime, and are pretty hungry too! The chef outdid himself today and lunch on board was fabulous – lobster followed by creme caramel. So good! But we still had one more treat in store, as we hopped back into the tender to look for the Galapagos Penguin – the world’s most northerly penguin. Fortunately we managed to spot a couple, though taking their photo was tricky from the tender as it bobbed up & down in the swell. Trying to hold our long lenses steady and focus on the penguin was a challenge to say the least, but we managed to get a couple of shots.

Galapagos Penguins!

Dinner was a low key affair, as we were pooped! Some of the group headed for a local restaurant, but Keith & I and a couple of others got take-away pizza from the deli/cafe next door and ate in. They do really great pizzas there, I have to say.

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