THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS: Guest Post by Scott Chandler

Blue-footed Booby, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
For two weeks in September, Art’s colleague Scott Chandler and his wife Sonja traveled to South America, visiting sites in Peru and in the Galapagos in Ecuador. Scott is an excellent photographer and has graciously given me permission to share some of his photos. Scott's photos were taken with an Olympus digital camera. For more of his photos of this trip and of his other adventures, you can go to his website: www.shcphotography.com/Landscapes . His report on the Peru half of his South American trip posted last week. Here is his report on the Galapagos.
Cruise ship Isabella II, anchored in the Galapagos
From Peru our trip went to Ecuador and to the Galapagos. We visited probably six islands. We were on a yacht/ship that held 40 people. We would sail during the night to different islands and disembark to visit each island during the morning; the day would also include snorkeling. We would have breakfast around 6:30 in the morning; then, on small zodiac boats which held ten people, we would go onto the island for a hike with fantastic naturalists.
Iguana
It's amazing how close and personal you can get with these animals. They have accommodated to our presence. We would come back to the ship in the late morning and basically put our wetsuits on and go back out in the zodiac to go deep water snorkeling.
Deep water snorkeling
Some of us had underwater cameras like I did and were able to capture the beauty of he planet underneath. This was the first time I ever really saw what it looks like to see underwater since I wear glasses and never had a prescription mask, which I did this time. Then we would come back for a fabulous buffet lunch and chat with all the other people about our experience during the day.
Young fur seal
Then, after some resting, there were a number of options in the afternoon: we could go back snorkeling sometimes, or take late afternoon hikes in different parts of the island. Because of the popularity of the Galapagos islands the Park service is tightly regulating where ships can set their anchor and how many people are allowed to be on any particular island at a time.
View from an island
Because of this strict policy, when you go on the island you feel like there's nobody there but your small group. Since we had a total of 36 on our tour we had approximately three zodiac boats which would disembark on the island at any one time. However, each naturalist would take the group in a different direction so you felt like you were in a small party of 10 or 12. We spent six nights on the boat. Then, when it was over, we went back to Guayaquil for a last night dinner and then everybody was off of their own to get back home. We were gone a total of 15 days in Peru and Ecuador.
Yellow Warbler
We went on this trip with the tour company Tauck. It is fair to say the trip was totally fantastic. I would love to do it again. I think both of us enjoyed the Galapagos part even more than the Machu Picchu part of the trip.
Sunset in the Galapagos

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