floreana• 11 comments •
Because we were staying on Santa Cruz Island, we had to book day tours from travel agents in order to visit the other islands. It was hard to know, with certainty, what the tours were going to include, but we eventually chose to visit the Floreana and Isabella islands (on separate days).
Unfortunately, our tour guide and the weather conspired to give us a less than stellar day on Floreana.
After a long and ridiculously bumpy boat ride, we arrived on the island and boarded this beast:
Everything appeared to be dead. It was rainy and kind of miserable. We were still excited to be on Floreana, even though we had no clue where the guide was taking us (despite her best efforts, she was not functionally bilingual).
All of the tour guides are apparently certified naturalists. I'm not sure what's involved in the certification, as she was unable to answer many questions posed to her by anyone in the tour group about anything (the rest of the group were primarily Argentinians).
We started hiking, in the cold rain, to a turtle habitat. These turtles weren't nearly as interesting as the turtles at the Charles Darwin Research Centre, they were drenched in mud and just kind of sad looking.
We continued trudging through the mud/turtle poo(?) as the guide pointed out caves that were used by the first Galápagosians (I think I invented that term). Two other tourists fell in the mud (after being advised by the guide to take a more precarious path) as we made our way back to the truck.
After lunch, we headed back to the boat where we went bird watching and I went snorkeling. Mina wasn't up for it, but I had an amazing time. Schools of fish would literately swim inches away from my hands. The highlights were definitely seeing a huge bull sea lion dive gracefully through the water, and when a playful sea lion nearly swam right into me. The visual preservation of this activity was, again, sabotaged by a malfunctioning underwater camera.
After an hour of snorkeling, we boarded the boat to see frigatebirds and blue-footed boobies (which had been both a selling point of the tour, and a promise from the tour guide). We were shown one single blue-footed booby from so far away that we could only actually see the blue feet when we reviewed our photos later. The frigatebirds were also only seen from far away, but at least there were hundreds of them and their protruding red necks made them quite the sight.
We finally continued on the bumpy and uncomfortable ride back to Puerto Ayora. We read about some of the sights of Floreana: Post Office Bay, Devils Crown, etc... None of these areas were included on the tour and left us wondering what we paid for. Although this particular tour was severely disappointing, we do feel that traveling through the Galápagos independently worked well for us and are still glad that we chose it over a cruise.
While in the Galápagos, we received some incredibly informative emails from one of our readers. She is from a company called Southern Explorations and, although we didn't use them, we may consider their company in the future considering how the employees are so knowledgeable and really care about the advice they provide. Luckily, the second tour that we took delivered what the agency promised and was much more fun. The guide also seemed concerned with making it an enjoyable day. Isabella Island tomorrow! - Alex