South American Adventure

Voyage of the Galapagos

  • March 3, 2008

The ‘Nathan Diary‘ was later used to write the Fulton’s infamous work ‘The Life of Nathan‘ (2055). The excerpt below was taken from the ‘Nathan Diary‘ during the journey around the Galapagos Island’s from the 27th of February 2008 to the 6th of March 2008. Although the exploration that was conducted during this time could never be used in any scientific research, it is hoped that generations to come will look at it for inspiration to rediscover the discovered for themselves.

Giant Tortoise

Wednesday the 27th of February, 2008. Today has found us in Quito Ecuador as we prepare our supplies for our epic journey to the mysterious Galapagos Islands. Mr. Diego, has taken some time to provide us with a brief on our proposed journey to the islands which we absorbed with sheer exhilaration at the thought of the strange and exotic endemic species that we would be privileged to observe. It has been some time since the Beagle was in this part of the world, and given that we have spent some time study Sir Charles Darwin’s works on the theory of evolution, it is expected that we will see some further progress on his studies whilst on the islands. After a brief salvage expedition into the new town of Quito to acquire some local food from the natives, we were fortunate enough to experience a fascinating ritual that is often practiced between the locals in the form of a vicious and privative knife fight. As our guide for our brief time in Quito, Mr. Diego explained that this ritual was often practiced with foreigners as well and that it was fortunate that we were in a restaurant at the time, even though the fight was a mere 3 meters from our table.

Thursday the 28th of February, 2008. Today has found us officially beginning our expedition to the mysterious Galapagos Islands. We left early from Quito for the epic four hour journey. We are expecting few loses from our crew and are in a positive state of mind knowing that we have adequate supplies to last us this long journey.

San Cristobal Solitary Lookout to Kicker Rock

We have made it to San Cristobal, narrowly missing several storm system flowing across the vast Pacific Ocean. After disembarking our vessel, we were greeted by our local guide whom seems to have taken a wrong turn from New Zealand. Mr. Tim seems friendly enough, and seems to have misplaced his vowels but certainly not his sense of humor. Hailing from his company “Galkiwi”, Mr. Tim will be our expedition leader during our brief invasion of the Galapagos, it is looking to be a fantastic week. From our first port, we boarded bicycles and began our journey from the highest vantage point on San Cristobal. On our journey down, we were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to sample some of the finest local fruits from the side of the road. At the end of our downhill journey, we met by some fascinating locals, who took the time out of their days to provide some intricate native poses.

Posing for the photo

Friday the 29th of February 2008. We broke our camp this morning to the sound of the beautiful sound of Sea Lions barking. It seems that the natives have reclaimed what was rightfully theirs taking possession of any real estate that is even considered prime real estate. We boarded a local vessel and disembarked for our first aquatic interaction with the local wildlife. We arrived at our first stop over and slid overboard to observe the wildlife in their own environment. During our marine exploration we were fortunate enough to observe a sea lion nursery, which was heavily populate by resident pups at play. In addition to this display of pups at play, we were also capable of observing first hand Marine Iguanas whom were sunning themselves, Green Sea Turtles grazing, copious amounts of fish life, Frigate Birds riding thermals and the beautiful Blue Footed Boobies standing proud watching the world pass them by.

Blue Footed Boobie

After this fabulous display of marine life, one would have thought that it would be hard to find another display that could rival it. It seems that I was to disprove this. We navigated to Kicker Rock, or as the locals call it “The Sleeping Lion”. As we slid from the boat, it was hard to swallow the excitement that in a few seconds we would be surrounded by White Tip Reef Sharks, Black Tip Reef Sharks, Hammer Head Sharks and the occasional Galapagos Shark. Our expectations of the impending swim, was nothing short of blown away. Within minutes we were swimming through a channel within the rock formation, which was a sheltering point for the various species of sharks. As well as the sharks, we were also fortunate to watch Manta Rays glide effortlessly passed us, as well as spotted eagle rays and golden rays.

School of Spotted Eagle Ray's

Saturday the 1st of March 2008. I have found myself struck down by some form of scurvy. Although I feel unwell, the sheer magnificence of this place is inspiration to further investigate the wonders of this place. We found ourself boarding yet another vessel for a four hour journey to Floreana Island. Fortunately our ship was capable of harnessing more than wind power, and we were able to keep on schedule. We arrived at Floreana, where we circumnavigated the island and observed the beautiful frigate bird displaying an enlarged throat.

Frigate Birds

From Floreana, we berthed at Enderby Islet where we once again found ourselves semi submerged to enjoy the marine life. Again we observed many species of fish life, as well as Sea Lions at play. In addition, we saw Red Sea Crabs, Blue Footed Boobies, and the Spotted Eagle Rays. After a brief stop over at Champions Bay for some lunch, we continued on to Devils Crown where we further explored the benefits of multiple currents bringing vital nutrients and the benefits on marine wildlife. In the afternoon we arrived at Isabella where we would be spending the next few nights.

Galapagos Red Crab

Sunday the 2nd of March 2008. As morning broke, we began our trek to the Sierra Negra Volcano. The trek was somewhat difficult as the paths where filled with mud and overgrown with volcanic tundra. The view however, was more than rewarding as it has only been a few years since this volcano was spewing forth volcanic ash and molten lava. It is hard to believe that the crater that opened before us, was not so long ago, densely populated by the famous giant tortoise that inhabits these islands. Now sadly, the last few eruptions have all but wiped out this specific species of giant tortoise. After all this volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in the Galapagos. Walking around the rim of Sierra Negra, gave a perspective as to just how awesome the power of these volcanoes can be, although fortunately, today this volcano was sleeping.

Sierra Negra Parasite Volcano Field

We crested the western rim of the volcano and walked down to one of Sierra Negra’s parasite volcanoes and lava fields. It was here that we were able to explore the diversity of species that had adapted to live in such a luna landscape. The soil as barren as it seems, provide some rich nutrients to a variety of cacti as they tower over the black volcanic soil. Every so often, steam vents remind us that we are trekking through a landscape that could melt the skin from our bodies. Today we were very fortunate as not a rumble could be heard.

Local beach on Isabella

Monday the 3rd of March 2008. Today we observed our first native in a black dinner suit with tails. The penguin’s local to the Galapagos have not made a public appearance near the harbor of Isabella for over 18 months. Today they have decided to return. The strange behavior that is displayed by these little men with black dinner jackets, is to turn their back on the water when they feel threatened to use their black backs to blend with the dark landscape. This form of camouflage seems to be a unique but highly effective survival instinct making them increasingly difficult to spot. From here we proceeded to a local breeding ground of Marine Iguana’s allowing us to observe the egg laying ritual at a close proximity.

Gang of Marine Iguana's

Trekking through the volcanic landscape had the group begging for a swim in the cool waters, and it was not long before our wishes were fulfilled. We donned our costumes and swam through mangrove forests in search of the resident Bull Sharks. Unfortunately the residents were no where to be found, but were replaced but colorful schools of fish life.

Marine Iguana

Tuesday the 4h of March 2008. It was time to seek civilization. We left Isabella early this morning, our destination, Santa Cruze. Upon arrival, we boarded a modern form of transport and were led up to the agricultural part of Santa Cruze to view a volcanic gas chamber that had collapsed. From there we decided to decend down into the depth’s of the island and explore the subterranian world of Lava Tubes. The lava tube itself was some 15 feet high at various points, and was often less than 2 feet in others due to what I can only imagine as shifting of the earth itself. The smaller parts of the tubes required a certain amount of squirming to move through, however it was more than possible.

From the lava tubes, we quickly moved on to a local farm, where giant tortoises have taken over. It seems that the giant tortoises, with the lack of foreign predators have began to make progress in repopulating their species on this island.

Baby Giant Tortoise (about 3 months old)

Finally, we have managed to find some time to relax. After several days of exploration, discovery and observations, we have found a location suitable for our need to relax. Only minimal natives took the time to observe us as we took the time to bathe and play. As we lay on the fine white sands of Tortuga Bay, Marine Iguana’s observed us as we had so often observed them over the past few days.

Wednesday the 5th of March 2008. Today we visited the Charles Darwin Research Station. Since the Beagle touched these shores, Charles Darwin’s work has been the basis of much ongoing research in the Galapagos Islands. After the last hundred or so years, the impact on the native flora and fauna that humans have had has finally began to decline. The magnificent and unique species that can be found here are slowly but surely been reintroduced without the fear of been eradicated by greedy and selfish humans in need of oil, shells and other pieces of the animals or plants believing that they have some properties to increase sexual prowess or heal some ailment. The work that we observed at the Charles Darwin Research Station was nothing short of amazing. Strangely enough, minimal funding for the station originates from the Ecuadorian government or the $100 park entrance fee. But rather from donations from visitors or foreign countries via research grants. After much time observing the many varieties of species that are been bred here to be released back to the wild, it was time to move on. We left knowing that the Galapagos was in good hands, although this was not to be the government protecting a local interest.

Galapagos Land Iguana

Leaving the Research Station we headed for San Cristobal via Santa Fe for one last swim with marine iguanas, Sea Lions and schools of surgeon fish.

Thursday the 6th of March 2008. We leave with heavy hearts knowing well that this would not be the last that we hear of the Galapagos. Good friends were made, and it is with sadness and understanding that it is in Mr. Tim’s best interest that we allow one introduced kiwi to stay in the Galapagos. We boarded our vessel and headed back to Quito where we would fined cold temperatures and overcast skies, something that we would need to get used too…..

Sea Lion's at play