Two of our amazing alumni travelers, Steve and Allison Sheridan, recently returned home from the Galapagos and Machu Picchu Adventure honoring their 34th wedding anniversary. In this blog Allison generously shares her writings and photos of their exciting experience.
Day 1: We successfully made it Quito, Ecuador last night where we were met by our tour guide, the fabulous Fabien, and our driver Billy. Having arisen at 4:30 am, we collapsed into bed. The next day they picked us up and drove us 45 minutes north to the actual equator. After lunch, we got to see the division of the old and new towns of Quito.
Day 2: We flew to San Cristóbal where we were quickly whisked in a bus a short distance to a jetty where we jumped aboard the panga. (We call them zodiacs in the US - inflatable outboard motor boats) After lunch we were told to hurry up and get into bathing suits to go pick out our snorkel gear and be fitted for wet suits. I did not like the experience of donning a wet suit. I will forever be sympathetic to Vienna sausages.That's all I'm saying.
Day 3: was probably our most adventurous and fun day of all. Steve caught a spectacular sunrise at the island of Floreana. We went on a short hike where Fabo shared interesting facts about the flora and fauna. We were intrigued by his explanation of how succulents grow here.The leaves grow vertically because the sun is generally in a vertical plane. Our reward for this walk was to find flamingos in the wild.We got to swim with sea lions and they were REALLY playful! I was spinning around like crazy to get their attention. We went to another part of Floreana and took the pangas to shore at Post Office Bay.The "post office" is a small metal can that was used by sailors I think since the 1800s. Then we took kayaks out into another bay where we gently glided over baby sharks! Steve tried out paddle boarding. He didn't even fall off! But that's not enough fun! We rode in the pangas to yet another beach where they promised turtles and they did not disappoint! We were EXHAUSTED at the end of the day but were 100% happy and delighted to have had such extraordinary adventures.
Day 4-5: We traveled overnight to Santa Cruz Island to see the giant tortoises. They showed us how to sneak around to the back of the tortoises for a photo op. The hand motions were a mandatory part of our training. After our lunch we went ashore again, this time to the Darwin Center where they're repopulating the giant tortoises. At one time, there were 200,000 giant tortoises but that had dwindled to 8000 in 1967. At the Darwin Center, they keep the baby tortoises for 5 years, until their shells are tough enough that they can't be eaten, and then release them into the wild. But get this. The temperature at which they keep the eggs determines the gender of the babies! As Fabo explained to us, 28°C gives you a male, and 29.5°C gives you a female. That's pretty much the weirdest fact I've heard.
Day 6: We really thought two days ago was the pead of the trip but today may have beat it. We started with a walk along Bachas Beach. We were greeted by marine iguanas who seemed quite friendly. Then we went snorkeling again and intentionally swam down to greet a white-tipped shark! Fabo swears that they eat crustaceans, not people. There were HUNDREDS of starfish on the bottom of the ocean.
Day 7: First thing in the morning, we started at South Plaza Island. On North Seymour we saw frigate birds and their mating rituals. The males get this huge red balloon under his chin to attract a mate. Check out his pouch fully inflated, you can see the veins in it!
There were tons of other birds on the island making a wonderful cacophony of sound. There were even blue-footed boobies who whistle when they're trying to attract a mate.
Allison & Steve Sheridan