Week 8: Las Galápagos

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I could not upload videos due to file size, but I hope to photos from some videos show just how beautiful this place was.

Unfortunately, I have not written anything for the past couple of weeks because I have had a lot of homework in Quito. However, this week was one of the most incredible weeks of my life. I can’t describe the feeling of calm that this week has brought for me. This week we went to the Galápagos. This is the account of what happened.

The first day, we arrived on the islands in the early afternoon. A group of 12 students left to live on a boat for 4 days. Eleven other students and I went to live in a hotel for 4 days in the island of Santa Cruz. After arriving at the hotel, we went to a site called “the cracks” to do some snorkeling. We saw 2 types of fish , king angelfish parrotfish, that we’re super beautiful. Afterwords, we went to swim at a a different place on Santa Cruz and we saw pufferfish and an eel ray. At night, we got to watch  Galápagos sea lions and sharks from the dock of puerto ayora. The second day, we climbed to the highest point of Santa Cruz and we walked through a forest of miconis. It was really fun and we talked with Charlie (our guide) a lot. After this, we visited “the twins”. These are craters on Santa Cruz formed from collapsed volcanic chambers. They were incredible…super big and beautiful. I have never seen rock formations so beautiful except for Chimborazo. Later, we visited the Charles Darwin Research Station to learn about species of tortoise both alive and extinct in the wild. At night, we ate in a small street of local vendors in Puerto Ayora. The third day, we went to Floreana. We learned about the medium tree finch, tortoises, and angel trumpet flowers. We also learned about the history of Floreana, we saw labyrinths of pirates, and we explored a cave. In the cave, Charlie told us about the history of his family and how his grandfather was the first person born in Floreana. After all this, we snorkeled in the ocean. We played with sea lions and saw 2 sea turtles. It was incredible. I have never felt so close to nature before in my life. The fourth day, we visited “cerro punto” on Santa Cruz and we saw “el colapso”. El colapso is a cráter similar to the gímelos, but this time we got to hike down into the crater and stand in it. Here, we learned about plants and different animal species in the crater. After this, we ate lunch on a beach named “Playa Garrapetero”. The water was too cloudy to snorkel, so we all just built sandcastles instead. It was hilarious and really fun. Charlie left our group after this, and we were all bummed about that. The fifth day, we visited Rancho Chato 2 in he morning  and we learned about tortoises and the geology of lava tubes. In the afternoon, we switched places with the other group to live on he boat while they lived in the hotel. On the 6th day, we went to a small island called Plaza Sur to learn about terrestrial iguanas and the behavior of sea lions. We learned about several species of finches, birds and cactuses as well. After this, we went snorkeling off the coast of Santa fe. Here, we saw many large schools of beautiful fish. We landed on the beach after snorkeling to learn about different plant and bird species of the island, like the Galápagos Hawk. We actually got to see a hawk fight with a sea lion! The seventh day, we arrived at an island called Bartolomé. We hiked to the highest point of the island and saw a view Ruth volcanoes, plants, craters, the beach, and very blue water. It was spectacular. Afterwords we snorkeled off of the island and swam with white-tipped reed sharks, a sea turtle, several rays, and a sea lion. I cannot begin to describe how blown away I was. All of these animals were just in one place. I was super lucky to see this. We also saw a Galápagos penguin on the rocks while swimming. When we were done, we traveled to an islands names Sombrero Chino. We snorkeled again at this new island, and we saw two types of sharks! The Galapagos Shark and the White-Tipped Reef Shark. We saw the Galapagos Garden Eel, two penguins, some rays, and an ocean cave. After snorkeling, we walked in the island, learned about the geology of sand in the archipelago, and we watched the sunset. It was a really nice finale to our last boat night. Finally, on the last day we visited an island called Seymour Norte briefly and saw Galápagos Fur Seals. Then, we returned to Isla Balta and waited on the beach for our airplane to arrive.