3 Feb 2018

A Cruise around some of the Galapagos Islands (Ecuador)

Galapagos Sea Lion, Floreana

We had a few days to bird around Puerto Ayora and Santa Cruz Island itself, while we looked for a suitable cruise to do some of the outlying islands.

Magnificent Frigatebird and Brown Pelican at the fish market, Puerto Ayora
Lava Gull, fishmarket, Puerto Ayora

Galapagos Lava Lizard by the roadside, Puerto Ayora

Cactus Finch, Puerto Ayora town

Puerto Ayora is the busiest town in the Galapagos Islands. Armed with a couple of guidebooks, knowing it was not yet peak season, and with a few days to spare before we were due to fly back to mainland Ecuador, we checked the Avenida Charles Darwin Travel Agents for last minute opportunities to get on a boat to the outlying islands.

Medium Ground Finch, Santa Cruz

Galapagos Dove, Santa Cruz

The agents are experienced in dealing with such requests and all have whiteboards on the pavement outside their places with what’s new.  To their credit, none of the people we spoke to tried to give us the “Hard Sell” and took the trouble to outline  where the trips were going and had photos of each place on the schedules and photos of the facilities on board the many and varied boats doing the rounds.

We settled on a north-south circuit on the Yacht Daphne. Seven nights on board, from 22nd to 29th November 2017.

Giant Tortoise
Day 1 - Santa Cruz.   We met the rest of our cruise party at the airport at Baltra, to the north of the island of Santa Cruz.   First stop:-  a Galapagos tortoise viewing place - "Rancho Manzanillo" in the highlands.

Giant Tortoise

Giant Tortoise

Yellow Warbler and Giant Tortoise
After Giant Tortoise viewing -a "must do" in the Galapagos, after all, - we boarded our home for the next seven nights, the Yacht Daphne, in Puerto Ayora on the south side of the island. Overnight we sailed south to Floreana.

Rather than write “Then we went here and then we went there…” I have mostly let the photos tell the story. Thanks to Jose, our patient local guide, we were well-briefed before dinner on what the schedule was for the following day. 

Some places we went are not documented here, because I was snorkelling in kit rented on the boat, and not carrying the long lens and camera. 

Day 2 - After a visit to Post Office Bay on Floreana, most people went snorkelling in the afternoon.  I had the camera in hope of getting some Shearwater shots, but that day, photo opportunities were few.

Cormorant Point, Floreana

Red-billed Tropicbird

Halfbeak Fish (Hemiramphus) avoiding another predator !

Magnificent Frigatebird

Yacht Daphne

Stingray Beach, Floreana

Stingray - don't panic if they brush past in the surf

Day 3 - Suarez Point on Espaniola

Yellow Warbler

Hood (Espaniola) Mockingbird

Warbler Finch and "Christmas Iguanas"

 "Christmas Iguana" - Espaniola

Blow Hole, Espaniola

Galapagos Hawk, Espaniola

Waved Albatross, Espaniola - just a few breeders left in late November

THEN - north to San Cristobal, where three of our number were sorry to be leaving the following day. These photos were taken from the deck of the Daphne.

Magnificent Frigatebird

Galapagos Shearwater

Elliot's Storm-Petrel

Bottlenose Dolphin - one of about twenty at sunset

Day 4 - In port at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, San Cristobal.

Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, San Cristobal

San Cristobal Mockingbird - behind the nature interpretation centre

Small Ground Finch, San Cristobal

Blue-footed Booby at the pier, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno

 Day 5 - Santa Fe island - the Galapagos Hawks showed very well....

Galapagos Hawk - Santa Fe

Galapagos Hawk - Santa Fe

Galapagos Sea Lions - Santa Fe

Day 5 afternoon - the "Yellow Iguanas" of Plaza Sur....

Land Iguana, Plaza Sur (Santa Cruz)

Land Iguana, Plaza Sur (Santa Cruz)

Follow the guide !

Red-billed Tropicbird - Plaza Sur

Red-billed Tropicbird

Small Ground Finch

Day 6 - At last Genovesa - the birder's favourite island, it seems.

Swallow-tailed Gull - Darwin Bay, Genovesa

Approaching Prince Phillip's Steps, Genovesa

Galapagos Shearwater from Prince Phillip's Steps, Genovesa

Red-footed Booby, Genovesa

juvenile Magnificent Frigatebird, Genovesa

Red-footed Booby, Genovesa


Short-eared Owl, Genovesa

Day 7 - rope-like lava formations (Pahoehoe) at Sullivan Bay, Isla Santiago

Sullivan Bay, Isla Santiago

Sullivan Bay, Isla Santiago

Galapagos Penguin, - Sullivan Bay, Isla Santiago

Day 8 - ended with a Zodiac cruise to see Hammerhead Shark and Eagle Rays at Black Turtle Bay, on the north of Santa Cruz. We were back where we started.


Overall we had a great time, the Daphne was comfortable and our companions were a lively bunch of people from the USA, Australia, Austria, the UK and New Zealand. 

The birds and fish were very approachable, and there were lots of iguanas.  

As always - I shall END with a sunset..... !!
Frigatebirds at sunset, San Cristobal, Galapagos


  1. Of all the amazing things the Lava Gull is my fave.........

    1. Stu,
      The Fish Market seemed to be the spot to get them ! I was surprised to see the Frigatebirds being so bold there, too.

  2. Truly an incredible account, John, and to follow in the footsteps of Darwin must add a whole other dimension to such a journey. To contemplate what started after his return from the Galapagos gives me the shivers, especially since I have just finished rereading his works. I am struck by how different the Short-eared Owl looks from the ones we see in Ontario. Maybe you owe us all a second post of the images that didn’t make it into this one!

    1. Thanks, David - I had "The Voyage of the Beagle" on this trip and it was good reading...

  3. Love the post John. All the best mate. Nick

  4. Fantastic voyage!
    Thank you!