January 12, 2022 seeing the trees through the forest

Today was an early start, breakfast at 06:30 in the morning, really?? Apparently the walk through the giant cacti forest is a popular spot for day trippers so we needed to get to the island early. The smallest island, South Plazas has the largest population of land iguanas in the Galapagos. We were glad we went early as it was a bit cooler than I am sure it was later in the day. We walked through a forest of giant cactus that developed in order to keep the land tortoises from eating them. The iguanas were a golden color.

Soon we were back on boat where we only got to rest for a few minutes before we put on our snorkel gear and were off to swim with the sharks.  Yep, you read that right!! We saw quite a few fish, turtles, eagle rays, sting rays, a trio of black tipped sharks, and quite a few sea lions including several bulls. The bulls were not happy with having visitors and showed their displeasure.  We backed away from them, at least as well as you can back up in water.  The swim was in crystal clear water and we had amazing views of the aquatic inhabitants of the ocean.

The last adventure of the day was a two hour walk along North Plazas Island where we again got to see some cacti, but on this island they did not reach to the same heights. We walked along a cliff edge and enjoyed the high views of the water hitting the walls of the cliffs. At one overlook we peered over the edge at a large manta ray swimming at the top of the ocean. The ray looked as big as a large area carpet. The graceful swimming of the ray mesmerized us all.  We saw a group of bachelor sea lions that are the juveniles and losers and do not have their own harem. We could see cormorants swimming in the ocean from high above as they worked at catching the fist in the rocky shallows. Soon we were back on board where the engines started up and we quickly started going to our next stop, civilization!  This will be the island of Santa Cruz where we hope to shop and visit the Darwin Center.

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