Saturday morning arrived with a 5 AM wake-up call. We flew out of Quito about 9:30 with a stop for fuel in Guayaquil, arriving at Balta in the Galapagos around 12:30 PM. We were bused a short distance to the small harbor where we boarded a Zodiak that took us to the ship, the Galapagos explorer II.
On board the ship we had a nice buffet lunch followed by an orientation then a safety and lifeboat drill. Our first island landing was to visit “Dragon Hill”. The passengers were divided into groups of about 16 people with a naturalist guide. We boarded Zodiaks by groups and went ashore. the hike lasted about 2 hours. We saw marine and land iguanas, Darwin Finches, Galapagos Seagulls, American Oyster Catchers, Yellow Breasted Warblers, red crabs on the lava shoreline, prickly pear and candlabra cactus and many other plants.
Back on board there was a welcome cocktail reception where we met the Captain, officers and naturalist guides. This was followed by a really nice dinner. We finished the day with a briefing about tomorrow’s adventures.
Here’s typical daily schedule on board the Galapagos Explorer II:
6:30 AM wake up call
7:00 AM breakfast buffet
8:00 AM first island visit of the day
11:00 AM return to ship
12:00 PM lunch buffet
3:00 PM second island visit of the day
6:00 PM return to ship
7:30 PM briefing on next days activities
8:00 PM dinner
9:30 PM social activities or naturalist lectures
This was a very long and active day, but worth every minute and very enjoyable.
The Galapagos Explorer II is a beautiful small ship (max 100 passengers). The crew and staff are the friendliest of any place we’ve traveled.