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Yacht Encantada 2

November 21, 2015

Yacht Encantada 2 17.11.15
Sorry Peru, you might have Mach Pichu but Ecuador has the Galapagos. It only takes an hour on Balcha beach on Santa Cruz, blue footed boobies nose diving into the blue water between the snorkellers to realize this is a special place. Lava gulls calling metres from you, brillantly pink Galapagos flamingoes feeding in a near by lagoon while brown pelicans stand sentinel on nearby rocks. Then a sea iguana has had enough basking on the laval rock and takes to the water to head to a more suitable place.
What makes this place unique is that the wild life are not scared of humans. The golden rule here is ‘Don’t Touch the Wildlife!’ Nothing closer than one metre. The sea lions don’t listen though. Snorkelling along a rocky foreshore they will appear inches from your mask just inquisitive to see what is behind the glass. Then they will glide by doing loops, flicking their way between the snorkelers as if to say ‘See what I can do!’
It is a special place.
The Encantada is one of the smaller yachts in the fleet. The cabins are small, little more than two bunks and a toilet The bottom one is wider allowing for that matrimonial feeliing. The back deck has a nice sitting area where yesterday morning we were surprised to see a young sea lion had pulled itself up onto it and was sitting there quite casually eyeing us. A very special place.
The food is excellent, the drinks expensive but then the swaying of the boat is not conducive to too much alcohol. They swapped the chef yesterday at the only town we call in at.. Their was a little apprehension if the new man could match the finesse of the departing one but the meal last night was every bit as good. Juan, the guide is also excellent. He came to the islands with his parents, his father worked on the American base during the war, now 55 he is a fount of knowledge of the islands, wildlife and history. He is what every guide should be.
There are something like 7 eco systems on the different islands and they all seem to have their own species of wildlife or adapatations on the same type. That is what Darwin studied and came up with his theory. He studied the finches that are on the different islands and how each of the 13 species of finch must have originated from the one type but have adapted on the different islands to feed on the the food supply on each. Hard to tell apart for the lay man it is the beaks mainly that are the difference. The most interesting is the woodpecker or carpenter finch. One of the only birds that uses an instrument to obtain its food. In its case a cactus needle or twig to prise out its food from the plant.
Yesterday, on Santa Fe, we came upon a Galapagos hawk sitting on a branch two metres from the ground but alongide the path. The group stopped, cameras clicked, then we slowly glide past, hoping not to disturb it. We continued slowly on, next thing the hawk was amongst us, standing on the ground almost between our feet wanting to have another look at these weird aberrations. More clicking of cameras.
Snorkelling is on the agenda every day. Sometimes off the beach sometimes off the zodiac. But once again the sea life are unafraid. I mentioned the sea lions but swimming over two white tipped sharks lying a couple of metres below us or sting rays slowly gliding past. Then there’s the fish. Rob, who has dived or snorkelled in many spots reckons the variety and colours of the fish are some of the best he has seen. So colourful and so many of them The Sally Lightfoot crabs are amusing. At Zorritos there were many crabs, but they would disappear 50 metres from where you were walking. Here they go about the business crabs go about, mating and looking for food within squashing distance.
We are anchored alongside Isla Espanola at the moment. The sun has just risen. I am sitting on the aft deck, nobody around. The boat gently swaying, a cooling breeze. The only downside to this idyll is the motoring between the islands. This is usually done at night, after the evening meal and can take between three and seven hours. The seas can be choppy and the swell has affected a few of the passengers. On the first full day we travelled for three hours during the day, the sea was rough there were a few green faces. But at night, if we can get to bed before the engines start up we seem to be OK.We decided on the southern islands when planning our route. The 6 days seemed a good time and the route included Espanola, the only place in the world where the waved albatross come to breed. The other main islands were San Cristobal and Floreana as well as a few other small islets. Each day was full with Juan taking us on walks on the islands, snorkeling or taking it easy on the sand. The vegetation was almost as interesting as the wildlife. The escalesia plant, since establishing itself on the islands has developed into 16 different types. The islands are very different from each other. Some are the result of volcanic eruptions, others from the uplifting of the tectonic plate. Some are flat, others have many volcanic cones rising to a height of about 700 metres. You learn a lot from a good guide.
Floreana has an interesting history involving a Baroness, her lovers, family feuds and the disappearance of three of the early settlers. The islanders think Magarithe did it but even Scotland Yard couldn’t solve it.
20.11.15. Puerto Aroyha harbour.
The cruise is almost over. We spend two nights in Puerto Ayora then fly back to Guayaquil for two nights, on to Santiago then back to Sydney.
This will be the last post. Will try and put some images on if the connection is good enough. The Galapagos experience has been a perfect way to end of an entertaining but at times trying three months.
Hasta la proxima.

  1. Tanya permalink

    Great blog; brings back the happy memories of the Encantada! Hope you found something interesting in Guayaquil. Cuenca is highly recommended when you return. Thanks for being part of a very memorable cruise; was a pleasure to meet you both. Tanya & Rob

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