Well today was our last full day in the Galapagos. Tomorrow we head back to Baltra and our flight to Quito, but in the meantime, there were still a couple islands to explore. First up was Rabida. Rabida had lava flows rich in iron and as a result, the salt air has turned the volcanic material a deep red.
We did a wet landing around 8:00 a.m. and once we had dried our feet and put on our hiking boots, we took a quick detour to look a some interesting rock formations before we a started up a trail that took us north along the coastline. At one point, we Harry stopped to inform us about some plants we were looking at and all of a sudden Luis let out a burp that rivaled the barking of the sea lions. For some reason it struck me as absolutely hysterical and I started laughing and couldn’t stop. Just when I thought I had myself under control I started laughing all over again. Ah Luis. Thanks for making my day!
Anyway, about the island. I found this island really unique in that it was covered in grasses or as Harry called it, hay, which is something I had not seen on other islands. Harry said that because this island is so old, seeds and plants have taken root and covered a lot of the volcanic flows. Time has also taken its toll on the island with deep crevices and holes that have been cut into the lava rocks by the wind and the sea.
The walk was a fairly easy hike, and as we climbed up on a flat rock formation along the shoreline, we spotted to a hawk looking for breakfast. And then we spotted the real show: two male iguanas fighting. And this wasn’t a bobbing heads in a threatening manner, taking a few steps towards one another and then backing off kind of fight. This was world wrestling material. The two were butting heads, biting each other’s feet, jumping on top of each other and laying down choke holds. And when a male spectator came close to the action, one of the fighting iguanas stared down the other iguana and did the head nod sign of dominance to get the hell out of here. We watched for a good 20 minutes until the two of them rolled right off the cliff. We have no idea what happened to them, but on the way back, we noticed that there was a new male iguana perched on the rock where the fight had taken place so it didn’t bode well for either one.
As we continued along the shore, we spotted numerous sea lions, including fur sea lions, which are a rarer to see. We walked over crushed coral and rock and stopped to admire beautiful caverns that had been carve by the sea. The holes made for stunning wave action and big spouts of water whooshing up in the air.
Now in one of these caverns we spotted a fur sea
lion on a ledge. As we watched it moved around and hung its booty over the ledge and peed. It was absolutely hysterical to watch. I guess even sea lions don’t want to sleep in their own urine.
Anyway, once we reached the end of the path, we doubled back and were back on the boat by 10:30 and began a two hour ride to Santiago Island and the area known as Puerto Egas. We were going to do some snorkeling in the inlet and then hike to a viewpoint on the island.
I once again opted out of snorkeling. I did not want a repeat of last week and with some minor swelling in my legs still, I felt there was still a risk I would cramp up. So I opted to ride along with Arnie at the helm and Guiermo also along for the ride.
Now we had no sooner approached the cove where the group was going to snorkel when Arnie spotted a manta ray, which is absolutely enormous. So the chase was on to get close enough to see at. Everyone on the zodiacs were trying to spot it. At one point the manta ray came very close to our zodiac and all the snorkelers piled into the water.
Now Harry is usually a pretty reserved kind of guy. Nothing really ruffles his feathers, but this was a new Harry. He was beside himself with excitement. He kept yelling Oh my God. Oh my God. Over and over. It is rare to see manta rays and one so close to the zodiacs so Harry was really thrilled for all of us. In fact, Harry later told me that it had been three years since he saw a manta ray and this manta ray (estimated at 8 feet across) was the largest he had ever seen.
Anyway, once it appeared the manta ray had disappeared everyone piled back into the zodiacs only to have the manta ray reappear again and everyone jumped back into the water. Those of us in the zodiacs were able to get magnificent pictures of the massive ray and Lexi got what I think might be the best possible video of the ray, including Harry yelling in excitement.
Now the manta ray gave us the slip once again and of course just as everyone was back in the zodiacs, the manta ray reappeared and … back into the water. This pattern went on
and on for a good hour, but the ray was simply too incredible not to continue to try and spot it.
Eventually, it appeared the manta ray had moved away from our area and perhaps had headed towards more open waters having eaten its fill of plankton in the area. It had been a once in a lifetime show. Simply incredible as Lexi’s wonderful video evidences.
So the guys drove the zodiacs near a cove where sea lions were playing and the snorkeling group jumped in for about a half hour of snorkeling with the sea lions. Harry then called it and we headed back to the boat for a quick 15 minute change over into hiking clothes and then back in the zodiacs to a red sand beach in the opposite direction from where we had been snorkeling.
After a wet landing and a quick change into hiking boots, we did a very short hike around the area, which was filled with blossoming cactus. The views throughout the trail were stunning with the beautiful blue waters contrasting against the cactus and dormant trees on land. When we reached the high point on the trail we could see the Samba in the distance as well as the red sand beach where we had started the hike.
The hike down was a little too quick and a bit sad for me as I knew this was the last real hike of the trip. Once we were back on the red sand beach, we were entertained by the blue footed boobies and pelicans dive bombing the fish in the little bay. It was incredibly well coordinated as the birds would fly up into the air, circle and then dive bomb into the water for fish. Harry told us that the birds can dive to a depth of 10 feet and because their feathers are coated in oil emerge completely dry. The whole show was highly entertaining and pretty darn amazing.
Arnie was soon at the beach and we were headed back to the Samba for one last night aboard before the cruise ends tomorrow. We will be stopping at North Seymour in the morning to see frigate birds nesting and a blue footed booby colony and then will be heading to the airport. How did two weeks go by so fast?