In the final post of the wonderful trip to Galapagos and Peru, I want to share some of the majesty that the islands offer. Ecuador does a great job of preserving the life on the islands, even after decades of human intrusion. In fact on some of the islands the pirates introduced animals such as goats and donkeys. These animals wreaked havoc on the creatures endemic to the islands. Eventually many of those goats and donkeys were exterminated or removed to protect the local life.

Some of what makes this place magnificent is the nature left to act in their natural habitat. You can see the various species making and having babies, protecting their eggs from predators, protecting territories, and catching their next meals. We saw a bird fighting off a frigate on his back who was trying to steal the eggs underneath in his nest. Nature can be brutal to their own as well. We saw Boobies warming their two eggs and were told that once one egg hatches they get rid of the next one. No spare after the heir with Boobie birds.

On one beach walk, we came across the saddest part of the trip—nature again playing Darwin’s survival of the fittest game. A cute baby sea lion was obviously very hungry as he walked around and then rested due to weakness from lack of sustenance. We could see his rib cage—a sign he hadn’t eaten in a while. His mommy may have been hurt or gone. This little guy was pleading with and slowly chasing another adult female to try to get some milk. Unfortunately they don’t do adoptions in the sea lion world so the female kept moving away from the baby. She was saving her resources for her own young.  I prayed his mommy would show up soon. 

In brighter news, the snorkeling was fantastic, and the most fun part was the sea lions swimming around you and playing. There were also marine iguanas eating the algae on the rocks under the water as well as huge turtles. The turtles were slow unless a boat or a person were coming on them and then they could scoot away. It was a bit startling at times though to turn around and see one right in front of you. After seeing some beautiful fish, we got back to the boat with white fingers from the cold water, to soak in the hot tub for a bit before our nightly happy hour.

Taking a walk along the shoreline on one island, we saw a number of frigates—the males trying to attract the females by enlarging the pouch under their chin. When “inflated” it looked like a red heart. When the ladies flew overhead, they would make a lot of noise, show their pouches, and spread their wings wide—look at me dahlin!

We also saw more sea lions and were told by the guide that sometimes you’ll see a beach boss—one guy who “owned” that beach for him and his women. If there were lots of ladies, he would be higher up on the hierarchy. On another island we saw a number of the colorful land iguanas. They moved slowly and the males seemed more colorful. At one point, two males were competing for a female’s attention.

The swimming and hiking wiped me out. Thankfully we took afternoon rides on zodiacs and saw many wonderful animals and geographical sites. On one island, we saw lots of Galapagos penguins swimming around. The ones we saw getting in and out of the water were pretty cute. It was fascinating to see penguins outside of a zoo and not in the freezing Antarctic.

Back on the boat, we had fun seeing birds that would catch rides between islands. And at one point a sea lion jumped on our stairs to catch a ride but was blocked by crew standing near the entrance. The crew couldn’t touch the sea lion but maybe their presence hindered his objective of a free ride. Later he jumped on a zodiac that was parked along the side of the boat.

Our happy hour was on the deck that night as we had a final crossing the equator party. It was beautiful with the sun setting and was our seventh crossing (six on the boat, one by plane and we had one more to go to get home). They gave us certificates with new names given to us by King Neptune—mine was Sergeant Major.

Our final tour of the trip was on land to a special tortoise sanctuary. There were some seriously big boys there. They were all over—lots of them in the mud pits. We got pretty close to a few of them. And a few people in our group climbed into big shells they had at the center to see how it feels to wear one. A bus trip through lovely scenery took us back to a dock and then on to a tiny airport for our flight back to the mainland.

A final night in Ecuador with a lovely goodbye dinner was festive. We had an amazing group—really one of the most fun we’ve ever had with Tauck. I highly recommend a trip to these two countries—Peru and Ecuador. The people were nice and interesting, the scenery was breathtaking, and the history was rich and filled with a mixture of religions and cultures. It once again grew our hearts and our compassion for our earth and the animals and people in it.

We had a few hours of sleep and a cold shower before taking a nice trip back to the states. It was exhausting but once again, mom, dad, and I had an amazing family experience. We are currently throwing darts at the map to see where we land next! Until then, buenas noches!

The sea lion trying to board without a ticket.

Kids in Peru singing a drinking song to make money off of tourists.