Day 2: Exploration of Santa Fe Island

Next day, 25 Sep 2017, was an early start! Yacht ride to Santa Fe island to see seals and bird watching, with potential for snorkeling. We were excited, and were ready and down for breakfast by 7:00 AM at hotel lobby. Manga Aunty, at 89 was ready and packed with the food that she likes.20170925_111352

Breakfast was very nice, with continental style, fresh made eggs, orange juice, toast etc. What was surprising was unusual visitors like birds, lizards that were all around.20170925_081133At around 9:00 AM, we were on the yacht with fours crew and 6 passengers. Our first day happened to be a private yacht tour. Also, it just so happens to be the most turbulent sea-ride.

Our agenda was, to take an 80-minute boat ride from Puerto Ayora, cruise to one of the most beautiful bays in the Archipelago. Here the pristine colour of the water allows you to see the bottom, and you might swim alongside eagle rays, sting rays, sea turtles and lots of fish. Santa Fe is known for its large colony of sea lions that lounge around on the two beaches. On the shore there are two trails that can be hiked – both give you the opportunity to see the Santa Fe land iguana, which is found only on this island. One of the trails is into the opuntia forest, home to the archipelago’s largest trees, and you can hike along the cliffs. The vegetation of Santa Fe is notable for the very large Prickly Pear Cacti. After the walk, return to the boat, where it’s time for some snorkeling in the pristine waters – sea lion pups will be eager to swim along too. Then make the return journey to Puerto Ayora.

So here we go…

20170925_09262420170925_092651It turned cold (about 48 F), damp, breezy, and turbulent within 20 minutes. We were completely under-dressed. I was wearing half-sleeves and all others had light jackets. We were not prepared for this ride!

After about an hour into the ride was saw the land Santa Fe!

AWESOME! is sigh of relief. Captain said, “Nah it will take another hour or more, with this water, before we reach the island”! I thought the captain was exaggerating.

About 25 minutes later we saw… the land looks so near.

After another 20 minutes or so finally, the island of Santa Fe was near, clear, visible and seemed reachable.

As we reached the island, the water became very calm and stable, breeze had subsided and it warmed-up. We started circling around the island, slowing down to see caves, landscape and looking for bird’s nests.

Santa Fe island is not habitable, as it rarely rains here the only fresh water available is from the condensation of moisture that we saw when approaching the island. So humans do NOT live here.

Our captain said, we cannot land on the island as water is too rough. We have to go to the bay to get off the boat.

As we were circling the island and looking for birds, life presence, we noticed the island was “painted white”! Why are there paints? The reply “Aah, they are the bird poops”!

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We didn’t believe, then we got the proof!

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Remember, it very rarely rains on these islands therefore, there is no way the bird poops, are going to get washed away.

As we were circling the island (It was almost lunch time), we were surprised by the most spectacular display of nature. Sperm Whale mother teaching the pup some tricks of survival! And Arch, was lucky and diligent to capture it.

This was most astonishing!

We slowly, turned in to the bay, the water was at stand still. We started seeing wild seals, just basking under the sun on the hot black rocks, that were formed from lava flow of probably million year ago, Not touched by Humans!!!

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It is amazing to see the black lava rocks with no vegetation, meeting the blue waters of the ocean. Yet, supporting such rich life! The landscape is just breath-taking.

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We got ready for snorkeling… I had no expectation. Unfortunately, I did not being an underwater camera, so no pictures of the under water world, though there were other who taking pictures.

The bay was only about 40-50 feet deep, and the water was as clear as glass. I could see schools of fish that I have only seen in National Geographic or Disney channels. Words or pictures cannot do the justice to the real experience.

While we were snorkeling for about 1/2 hour, the crew had prepared a modest but tasty lunch. We ate that and started our return.

Arch was getting sea-sick (that is why no pictures), until we reach Santa Cruz.

Finally, around 4:00 PM local time, we reached Santa Cruz.

As we were walking back from dock to hotel, through the seals sleeping on the benches, tourist bustling street and,  street-side vendors selling “stuff”, we noticed an unusual “display”.

A tent selling education materials, distributing pamphlets for keeping environment clean. The message was, Please don’t THROW the cigarette butts, they harm animals and nature!

The artifacts were made out of discarded butts from the street, that locals picked up and made a statement.

Several other pictures, taken over 20 minute walk before dinner.

Finally settling down for dinner at road side restaurant. Good sea-food, chicken, and awesome drinks.

Ended the full-filling day, tired and ready to hit the bed.

Next day the next adventure!

Till then so long.

Enjoy!

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