Ellen and Doug Visited the Galapagos Islands and took an 8 day tour of 7 of the central, northern and western islands. Located 600 miles west of the coast of Ecuador and straddling the equator, the Galapagos are an archipelago consisting of 19 islands and 42 islets. They are sitting on a 'hotspot', much like the Hawaiian Islands and Yellowston, where a weak part of the Nazca Plate's oceanic crust passes over a hot magmatic plume, creating intense seismic and volcanic activity. The oldest islands, generally located in the south and eastern part of the archipelago, are probably 10-15 million years old, (about half the age of the Hawaiian Islands), while the western islands, including Fernandina and Isabela are still active and have erupted as recently as 2009.
, with the trip route and day-by-day itinerary, is available.
Ellen's journal, of the trip is also available.
Website photos, with captions, daily excerpts from Ellen's journal and slideshows (with music):
Quito to Galapagos. On their way to the Galapagos Islands, they had a lay-over day in Quito, Ecuador. While there they visited the Inti-nan Museum,located on the Equator, in nearby San Antonia. They also toured the city, visting several old catherdral, walking around the city square and driving up El Pancello, a large hill offering views of the (cloud obscured) city and surrounding mountain countryside;
Las Bachas Beach - Santa Cruz Island: An afternoon spent exploring Las Bachas Beach, on the morthern shore of Santa Cruz Island;
Sullivan Bay - Santiago (James) Island & Bartolome Island:A morning spent hiking on the lava on Santiago Island and snorkeling in Sullivan Bay, then crossing the channel to Bartolome Island to view penguins and sea lions, followed by more snorkeling and a hike to the highest point on the island in the afternoon;
Prince Phillip's Steps - Genovesa Island: Climbing Prince Phillip's Steps to the rim of the caldera and hiking on the Palo Santos plateau, among red-footed and nazca boobies, great frigatebirds and numerous species of birds. The return to the boat included a panga (dinghy) ride along the cliffs to view sea lions;
Darwin Bay - Genovesa Island:A late afternoon swim and scenic hike on shore at Darwin Bay, among sea lions, blue-footed boobies and great frigatebirds;
James Bay, Espumilla Beach & Buccaneer Cove - Santiago Island: a long hike on shore at James Bay, (Puerto Egas), ending with snorkeling and swimming from the beach. In the afternoon there was a hike from Espumilla Beach, in an area where James Darwin had spent the majority on his time exploring in 1835. Later in the afternoon there was a tour along the spectacular cliffs in and around Buccaneer Cove;
Punta Vicente Roca - Isabela Island: touring along the cliffs of Punta Vicente Roca, at the base of Volcan Ecuador on the northern coast of Isabela Island. Highlights included magnificent geology, Galapagos Penguins and flightless Cormorants, followed by snorkeling, from the dinghies, among Green Sea Turtles;
Punta Espinoza - Fernandina Island: a spectacular hike across the lava shoal of Punta Espinoza on Fernandina Island, a haven for Marine Iguanas, Sea Lions, Flightless Cormorants and Galapagos Hawks;
Urbina & Elizabeth Bays - Isabela Island: late afternoon Panga (dinghy) in the lush mangrove forest on the coast of Elizabeth Bay, populated by pelicans, green sea turtles, lava herons and a pair of nesting penguins;
Tintoreras, Sierra Negra Volcano & Tortoise Breeding Center - Isabela Island: an early morning hike on Tintoreras to mingle with numerous nesting marine iguanas, followed by a hike up Sierra Negra Volcano to it massive caldera on top. In the afternoon the group went to the village of Puerto Villamil, including a visit to the Tortoise Breeding Center and a local beachfront bar for an 'end of trip' celebration;
Santa Cruz Highlands, Tip Top III, People of the Trip: The final day was an overland bus trip across Santa Cruz Island, over the Highlands. Also included are photos of the Tip Top III and all of the participants on the trip - customers and staff and crew.