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Saturday 4 Jan 2014
Isla San Cristobal, Ecuador

Sea lion pup tastic!

We had a traditional Ecuadorian meal at lunchtime, including ceviche with popcorn, before resting up for a couple of hours.  The alternative was a sneaky last chance in the water, snorkelling along the nearby coast of Los Lobos (sea lion island).  Needless to say, Mum and I were back in the water in no time.  The rocky shoreline was home to several sea lion nurseries.  The very young pups were playing in rock pools or swimming over and under tunnels and gaps between the boulders.  We were shooed out of one pool by a couple of older sea lions, including the bull, but the little ones were still curious and followed us to the entrance. 

Further along, I found a trio of pups on a rock, who kept peeking over the top to watch me and my camera, craning their necks to follow as I ducked out of their view.  I started to swim away and they followed into the water a short distance to watch as I moved.  Gorgeous!   I finally dragged myself away from them to find a group of eight slightly bigger pups darting up and down behind a group of submerged boulders, daring each other to swim through the gap at the bottom and come up on my side of the rocks.  Tim and I stayed with them for what felt like half an hour, just holding onto a rock to stop the current moving us away and watching them play.  A couple came right up to sniff my camera and tickled my hands with their whiskers.  It was such a privilege to interact with them in such an intimate way – who knows what we look like to them, but they were adorable to me.  Such curiosity and dexterity in the water, combined with the slight awkwardness and shyness of youth.  You could almost hear their voices saying things like ‘you go first,’ ‘no, you go,’ and ‘wow, did you see what Sammy just did?’

The sea lions were by far the unexpected highlight of the Galápagos wildlife for me.

After Mum and I raced each other back to the Queen B (front crawl is so much easier with a snorkel on, by the way) for a very quick change, we boarded the pangas again for our last wildlife visit.  Los Lobos is a narrow strip of land that appears to be formed exclusively from a pile of volcanic boulders, which made walking along the paths a little tricky.  We saw our last marine iguanas, almost treading on a couple in the middle of the path again.  I also saw a lovely blue-footed boobie on the rocks, as if he’d come to say goodbye to us. 

In the shade of a lovely big tree, we found another sea lion nursery.  Some of these pups were only weeks old, but the mums were content to let us perch on the low branches and watch them.  One very curious pup decided to investigate Ailsa’s bag when she crouched to get her camera out.  Well, it can’t be pup-napping if he climbs in of his own accord, right?  It took a lot of effort to drag ourselves out of there and continue the walk.

We were given a couple of hours in the port to do some souvenir shopping and relax.  On one corner of the dock, someone had set up a couple of waterslides that the sea lions used to climb up out of the water.  Everywhere we looked, there was a sleeping sea lion on a bench or on the back of other people’s boats.  There was a group of four lying in the shade under a police car!  I tried to stand near a big one for a photo – pushed up on his flippers, he was almost as tall as me.  He turned to look at me, so I said hello, to which he replied with a loud bark and lunged at me!  I don’t think I’ve ever moved so fast in my life and Mum caught a great shot of me leaping out the way.  It took Mum and Dad ages to stop laughing! 

I bought Mum, Dad and Ailsa a present to thank them for such an amazing holiday – a handmade glass ornament of a boobie and a tortoise with a hook to hang on a ribbon.  I had promised to stop buying Ailsa fragile presents, but I couldn’t resist this one.  (I’ll try and remember before I buy anything else, Ailsa!)

As it was our last night on the boat, Angélo made us all delicious cocktails again and we thanked Fabian and the crew for all their hard work.  Tipping in the Galápagos is the most expensive I’ve experienced anywhere in the world. We’d already paid a considerable amount for the trip and had been assured that the crew received a decent wage.  I am more than happy to tip well for good service and a great experience, but the suggested tips here were staggering, equating to an additional 15-20% on the cost of the trip.  I’ve been on some trips where the suggested tip per person equates to almost a week’s wages for a day’s work by the time a whole group has contributed.  The crew undoubtedly worked very hard and made our stay very special, but there has to be a balance between recognition of service and essentially substituting wages with tip money.  I’m not sure what the right answer is, but it was a shame to be left wondering what our trip price had included if there was still such a high expectation on us at the end.

In spite of this, we’d had an amazing time and thanked Fabian and the crew for everything.



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Zoe's Big World Adventure Part II - #3 Ecuador and Galapagos Islands

Travel blog by zobeedoo



This is the big highlight of the year. Joined by my parents and reunited with Ailsa, we'll spend Christmas in Quito, then travel to Galápagos for New Year, celebrating in style with a week on the Queen Beatriz catamaran visiting the southern islands.

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