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Galapagos Highlands & Islands Adventure

October 16 – 30, 2005

Howard & Susan Anderson

I (Susan) contacted several travel companies during Sept. 2004 and then made reservations for a Oct. 2005 Galapagos Islands cruise with INCA, a wise move. International Nature and Cultural Adventures  Itinerary (subject to change)  yacht for Oct. cruise in Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are an archipelago of a living museum of evolutionary changes.  Free and fearless animals, different from any others found elsewhere.  The UNESCO declared Galapagos a World Natural Heritage Site in 1978 and a World Biosphere Reserve in 1985.  The islands appeared from lava eruptions that came from the bottom of the ocean and that rise as much as 2,600 feet.  Presently the archipelago includes 13 large islands, 6 minor ones and more than 40 islets.  Some of the younger islands still have active volcanoes.  The weather is sunny and warm with some rain December to May, it is colder and drier from June through November.  The islands are located 600 miles west of Ecuador’s coast in the Pacific Ocean.

Galapagos Highlands & Islands Adventure

Oct. 16, 2005 – Sunday –
Set our alarm clock for 2:15 a.m. MST, left home at 3 a.m., parked in PCA lot and rode shuttle to Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, AZ.  Our AA flt 552 left at 5:30 a.m. for Dallas; there we changed to AA Flt 1614 for Miami, then changed to AA flt 967 for the flight to Quito, Ecuador.  We arrived at 7:30 p.m., after the quick transit through customs were met by INCA, with sign, driver and van.  She took us to the Hilton Colon Hotel and we signed in on the 17th Executive Floor office.  Our room was 1852 with great view.  Later received a “welcome” call from the Quito office manager in Quito, Zulema Munoz.  Had a nice dinner in the Café Colon in the hotel.  The hotel has 300 rooms    nice clear sky with many stars visible.

Ecuador is one of the smallest countries in America.  It lies on both the northern and southern Hemispheres and is divided by the Equator, thus its name.  The population is approximately 13 million, Spanish and Quichua are the languages.  The country is 95% Catholic and the currency is the dollar, so any money of the USA is welcome.  It has a democratic government.  The city of Quito was founded in 1534, and is the second highest capital in the world at 9,213 feet.

October 17, 2005 – Monday –
Buffet breakfast in the Executive Dining Room on 17th floor of Hilton Colon Hotel.  Quito is officially at 9,213 feet with population of approximately 2 million people.  Pretty city ringed by higher mountains.  For the two weeks, before our trip, USA Today newspaper has shown the temperatures for Quito with rain … but we saw NO rain there or anywhere on our trip.

After breakfast we explored the hotel; Park Ejdo across the street; and the central business/hotel district – street vendors and shops, making some small purchases.  Visited a florist shop with many arrangements made to look like various animals of the region.  We returned to the hotel to rest, and later went out when school was out and observed the city buses with a man standing on the steps to tell people where that bus was going (for those unable to read).  We acted like American’s and had a small dinner at KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) across a street from McDonald’s … were too tired for a large meal.  Beautiful bright sunny day.

October 18, 2005 – Tuesday –
We had breakfast buffet in the Executive Dining room at 6:45 a.m.  Susan glad for CNN on the TV to keep up with news.

Gloria, our guide, with driver and car picked us up at 9 a.m. for an all day Quito and area tour.  We drove through the new city and old town, getting out to walk and view things. Our first stop was at the Parliament Building that has a long bas relief of the history of Ecuador.  We toured the oldest astronomical observatory “Observatoria Astronomico” founded in 1873.   Email:  We walked major plazas including San Francisco Plaza.  As we walked in Old Town we smelled small hints of tear gas, students were holding an anti-CAFTA demonstration in front of the Presidential Palace and offices, and observed more than the usual number of military and police.   We toured the La Compania de Jesus Church with the tremendous amounts of gold … ceiling, altars and almost everywhere.  We stopped at a church with massive gargoyles representing the land and marine animals in Ecuador including the Galapagos Islands.  We walked the “vantage point” with the statues of the Virgin Mary overlooking Quito and the valley.

After lunch at “la choz sabor con tradicion”, 12 de Octubre Ave, a very nice restaurant with white coated servers and music, we toured the National Museum in the Banco Central Del Ecuador.  We visited the Archeology Court with displays telling of the early people and later; Aztec and Inca peoples from 12,000 BC to 1534 AD.  The Golden Court displayed information and artifacts from 500 BC to 1534 AD.  After visiting this very good museum we drove north of Quito observed the “Equatorial Monument” (not on the exact equator), and visited “middle of the earth” at the Inti-Nan Museum Equator on the exact equator according to GPS measurements.  Howard has been pondering a demonstration that we saw there.  A sink was filled with water then the drain plug was pulled.  When the sink was directly over the equator line, the water drained WITHOUT forming a vortex!  The sink was moved 10 feet south of the equator line and filled again.  When the drain plug was pulled, the water drained and a clockwise air-sucking vortex formed.    The sink was then moved 10 feet north of the equator line and filled again.  When the drain plug was pulled, the water drained and a counterclockwise air-sucking vortex formed.  Conventional physics wisdom says that the Coriolis Effect cannot be observed in this manner.  Interesting though …

They had interesting demonstrations and various exhibits.  I (Susan) purchased a weaving/rug/wall hanging, of the wildlife found in the Galapagos Island, from the young boy doing weavings with his family.  We arrived back at our hotel at 5:20 p.m.  Gloria, car and driver, picked us up at 7 p.m. and we had a good dinner at the Quito Grill.

October 19, 2005 – Wednesday –
We had another nice buffet breakfast at 6:30 in the Executive Dining room on the 17th floor and again sat by a large picture window with great view.  We checked out at 7 a.m. and at 7:15 a.m. a car, driver, and the Quito office manager of INCA Zulema Munoz picked us up for trip to the airport.  Zulema took care of our tickets and checked our two large duffle bags for our TAME flight to the Galapagos Islands, and escorted us to the personal security line saying she shall meet our returning plane on October 29th.  Our TAME flt 193 left Quito at 9:30 a.m., made a stop in Guayaquil on the way to the Galapagos.  The airport at Baltra (on South Seymour Island) was closed in April 2005 for resurfacing the runways. 

Our TAME flight 193 was the FIRST flight to use the resurfaced runways, thus reopened the airport after being closed for six months.  We were met by an INCA employee holding a sign for Mr. & Mrs. Howard Anderson, and by Daniel Fitter our guide.  We were taken to the VIP Lounge, of the Royal Palm Resort, and met with iced tea on a silver tray.  The lady took our luggage claim checks, our $200 and the two forms we had ready and obtained our tickets for the Galapagos National Park permits and our luggage.  We boarded one of three buses with Daniel our guide and rode the bus to a ferry.  We then boarded the ferry and rode to Santa Cruz Island.  Buses were waiting to take people in to the town of Puerto Ayora.  A taxi and driver were waiting for Daniel and us and drove us to the Royal Palm Hotel where we were again met with tropic juice drinks on a silver tray.  All taxis are small pick up trucks with king cabs.  The Royal Palm Resort is the only five star resort or hotel in Galapagos.

A golf cart took us to our villa, #2.  We had a great room with desk & chair, love seat, table & chairs, mini-bar, large picture windows, fireplace with wood, plus a note of welcome and bowl of fresh fruit from the manager, Vasco V. Baselli.  In the next room were a divan and chair, huge picture windows and a Jacuzzi for two.  There was a very large dressing room with long dressing table and brass wash basin, long mirror, closet, chest of drawers, safe.  Separate room for the toilet and separate room with wood floor for the shower.  The bedroom had two queen beds, desk, suit valet, TV, DVD, CD, satellite T-V and two phones.  There were electric heaters in the dressing room and bedroom (total of six rooms).  (Netscape did not open these for me I had to use Internet Explorer which I do not like <G>)

At 2 p.m. we met Daniel Fitter on the patio by the dining room and overlooking the swimming pool and tennis courts.  Had a good lunch.  Susan returned to the villa to unpack and mix her Intron-A (interferon alfa 2-b) and lay out clothes for Thursday.  Howard and Daniel took a hike through a huge lava tunnel that has beautiful colors inside.

We had an early dinner sitting by a fire in the round dining room. The Royal Palm is situated on 500 acres with beautiful trees, shrubs, flowers and colorful birds.  We had clear blue sky, sun, nice breeze, and it was beautiful.  We were told we had arrived on the first clear nice day in two weeks.  From our villa we could see the beach / ocean.  After dinner and our return to the villa the beds were turned down and linen “rugs” were by the bed to step on.  All of the floors were wide polished hardwood.

October 20, 2005 – Thursday –
Awoke at 6 a.m. there was a fine mist and fog but it lifted by 7:15 a.m. so we could see the panoramic view of ocean and breakers from our picture windows.  According to CNN Hurricane Wilma was a category 5, strongest hurricane ever recorded in any ocean and may hit Miami, FL.  We ate breakfast at 9 a.m.  Our guide Daniel Fitter joined us about 9:40 a.m.  At 10 a.m. we left in a taxi.  All taxi’s here are small white pick-up trucks with king cabs (four doors).  Town – Puerto Ayora is a 20 minute drive from Royal Palm Resort.

In Puerto Ayora we climbed steep steps up the side of a hill while Daniel obtained permits for the 6 km Tortuga Bay trail.  We hiked one mile on a good cobblestone trail, saw many different birds, including Whimbrel, Mocking Birds and geckos.  We arrived at the white sand beach and hiked along the surf, enjoying the beautiful day, many marine iguanas, small lava lizards, various Sandpipers and the red Sally Lightfoot crabs.  We stopped for a bit of chocolate and water and to enjoy the beach.  We next hiked through a cactus forest, tall cactus (like prickly pear) with red trunks.  Coming out of the cactus forest we encountered many marine iguanas on the upper beach, as we continued along over some lava we saw Blue-footed Boobys, Brown Pelicans, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, Mockingbirds, Great Frigatebird and others.  We arrived at a beautiful beach on Tortuga Bay.  A boat from Galapagos Divers had arrived and set up a table, with table cloth, chairs and lunch on the beach.  We ate lunch under a small tree.  Birds ate bread from Howard’s hand and my plate.  Howard tried out his new snorkel and mask in Tortuga Bay.  After we were finished here we boarded the boat for a trip to the other side of Santa Cruz Island.  On the boat ride we saw additional Blue-footed Boobys, Herons, Egrets, Pelicans, marine iguanas, Sally Lightfoot crabs and etc.  Since it was a full moon the ocean swells were 6 to 8 feet and the water a beautiful color of blue / turquoise.  We stopped at several rocks to view many Galapagos Sea Lions on the rocks, on the beach and playing in the ocean with snorkelers.  The Sea Lions, according to Daniel, enjoy swimming and playing with human snorkelers and divers.  In Puerto Ayora Daniel had a taxi for us to return to Royal Palm Resort.  This was a beautiful sunny day with a light breeze.  At 6 p.m. we went to dinner quite unfashionably early and enjoyed another five course meal in the five star dining room.

October 21, 2005 – Friday –
Awoke at 5:30 a.m. some mist but could see the shore and ocean breakers.  We had an 8 a.m. breakfast, good as all the meals were.  Desk called us a taxi and we were off on our 20 minute trip to Puerto Ayora.  We went to the boat dock and then walked the main streets shopping and purchasing tee shirts, calendar and some small items.  We visited the photographic gallery of Daniel and Tina Fitter but she wasn’t in yet.  The wildlife and island photographs by Daniel are superb.  Purchased the marvelous book Wildlife of the Galapagos by Julian Fitter, Daniel Fitter and David Hosking.  It is 254 pages of photographs and detailed information ISBN 0 00 220137 2, most of the photographs are by Daniel (Julian is his father).  Also purchased the book My Father’s Island by Johanna Angermeyer (Daniel’s aunt), ISBN 0-9544851-0-6, and a very interesting read about the early days in the Galapagos Islands.  We took a taxi back to the Royal Palms Resort.

Daniel and the other eleven people in our group arrived. Daniel had met their airplane.  We all were welcomed with a sherry glass of tropical fruit juice in the bar.  We had lunch at a large round table in the dining room … fourteen of us.  Thirteen for the yacht tour and Daniel the local guide.  At 2:30 we left for Tortoise Territory a short distance from the resort.  A local beef cattle farmer has a large number of the Giant Galapagos Tortoises that call his farm their home.  We walked the pasture taking photographs of the tortoises.  These had the domed shells.  After our walk we sat on a patio where could see the beach and ocean.  Next drove to the “Cloud Forest” where the others took an hour hike along a lava trail and visited two volcano craters.  Susan stayed on the small bus to rest.  We had dinner at 7 p.m., and then packed to leave the next day.

October 22, 2005 – Saturday –
Breakfast in the circular dining room.  Our luggage was picked up and we settled our account with the office (purchased Howard a polo shirt and some postcards).  Our group and Daniel Fitter rode a small bus to town, and we were dropped off on the road leading to the Charles Darwin Research Station in Puerto Ayora.  We hiked the rest of the way in to the station, primarily an international scientific research station and not a tourist site.  We then visited many Giant Tortoises, babies one year old, two years old and three year old.    They raise tortoises there to replenish populations on various islands since they are subject to many predators.  (New predators such as rats introduced by humans eat their eggs for example.  Preexisting predators such as birds of course have always taken new hatchlings…)  After they are five years old or so, they are big enough to survive.  We walked through the area with females … one walked down steps and over to Howard as he filmed her.  He had to move out of her way as he wondered whether she was planning to take a bite out of his shoe.  We walked through area with adult male Giant Tortoises and also saw Lonesome George.  “Today there are only eleven Galapagos Tortoise subspecies surviving, one of which, Geochelone elephantopus abingdoni from Pinta, is represented by a single individual now living in captivity, fondly named ‘Lonesome George’” from page 29 of Galapagos Wildlife: A Visitor’s Guide by David Horwell and Pete Oxford, ISBN 1 898323 88 7.  A time was set to meet back at the bus holding our luggage near the pier/dock.

We walked back to town and since we had already shopped, Daniel put us in a water taxi to go to lunch at Angermeyer Point Restaurant … You can only reach this delightful restaurant by boat.  This is the former home of Karl Angermeyer an artist that arrived in the islands in 1935 from Germany and a great-uncle of Daniel’s (I think).  A table was set on the balcony over the water.  On rocks beside the restaurant were Blue-footed Boobys, heron, pelicans, Sally Lightfoot (red) Crabs and other wildlife.  We had a delightful lunch; Daniel and wife Tina Fitter were seated across the table from us.

I admired the sterling silver jewelry Tina was wearing and she said a local woman designs and makes the jewelry.  At the urging of us she called Jacqueline De Roy and she came over to give us a private display of her jewelry.  I (Susan) purchased Booby dangle earrings and a chain with larger pendant of a Booby.  Email:

At lunch we met our guide for our cruise on the Integrity – Paul McFarling.   After lunch we put on life vests that we would wear each time we got into a panga (Zodiac like inflatable boats) and boarded two pangas for our yacht Integrity.  When we arrived at the Integrity in the harbor our luggage was already in our stateroom, number 6.  We loved the three large picture windows and unlimited hot and cold water since the yacht has desalination equipment.  Integrity is owned by the company that owns the Reina Silva


By far, at 141 feet, the new Integrity is the largest and most luxurious yacht ever to sail the Galapagos waters. It is well designed, smartly appointed, quiet and stable. All staterooms are on the main deck and are twin or king-bedded. Each has three large picture windows, private facilities and an entertainment center.

Built in the USA, the Integrity began operations April 2005, following a total refit that conforms to INCA's exacting standards for luxury Galapagos Islands cruising. All systems including engines, transmissions, electronics, water filtration and sterilization are new, as are the interior decorations and furnishings.

Reservations are open for 2005 and 2006, for individuals, couples, groups, and charters. Call (510) 420-1550 or e-mail for current availability. Your Galapagos experience deserves the best!


Galapagos Motor Yacht

Yacht Integrity



Specs and Deck Plan



length & beam

141 x 26 ft, 43 x 8 m


12 knots



air conditioning

individually controlled




9, 150 sq. ft.


1, 350 sq. ft.

crew + naturalist



in cabin

cell/satellite phone

in cabin

Cabins: 6 cabins with convertible lower twin/king beds, 1 Queen-bedded cabin, 1 single, and 1 Owner's Suite. All have picture windows, private bath with separate showers, individually controlled air conditioning, mini bar, TV/DVD and CD players.

Features: fully stabilized, Low-Rez vibration control, salon, library, bar, outdoor dining area, large covered sun deck, outdoor spa


Introducing the Integrity, a 141 ft. luxury yacht customized to carry 16 INCA adventurers in luxury.

Built in the USA, the Integrity began operations April 4, 2005, following a total refit that conforms to INCAs exacting standards for luxury Galápagos cruising. All systems including engines, transmissions, electronics, water filtration and sterilization are new, as are the interior decorations and furnishings.


All cabins are on the main deck and are lower twin or king-bedded. There is an owner’s suite and one single cabin. Each cabin has large picture windows, individual climate control, satellite telephone, a stocked refrigerator, and an entertainment center with CD/DVD, VHS, and LCD monitor. Bathroom facilities are en suite with a shower, lavatory and toilet. In the second deck salon, you’ll find the bar and lounge seating.

Meals are served at tables of 4 to 6 not far from a galley designed for gourmet chefs. On the covered top deck, you'll find a spa, a bar, barbecue and comfortable chaise lounges where you can relax, enjoy a beverage or nap in the gentle breezes.

With its huge, state-of-the-art stabilizers and vibration control, the Integrity will carry you through Darwin's Islands more smoothly than on any other yacht. You'll enjoy peerless comfort as you tuck into your spacious, smartly decorated cabin and watch the boobies go by!


We met in the lounge area for nibbles and drinks, everyone was introduced and then all of the crew (12) were brought in and introduced before we had dinner of gigantic shrimp. 

The evening meals all started with soup and bread, then the main course followed by desert.  Noon meals all started with salad and bread, then main course followed by desert.  The meals were all gourmet quality and the presentations would rival any five star resort.   We had duck l’orange once, pork once while wonderful salmon, grouper, shrimp and other fresh sea foods were featured. There was coffee, hot tea, iced tea, soft drinks, water (NO charge) and beer, plus mixed drinks available at ALL times.  The two coffee tables in the lounge area were kept stocked with plates of cookies, bowls of fresh fruit and nuts, plus other nibbles.  After a visit to an island or any activity off Integrity … when we returned there were rolled up damp wash cloths for our faces and hands and there were also hot and cold snacks ready in the lounge area.   Integrity moved from island to island during the night, often not leaving the current anchorage until midnight.  After dark we saw an orange glow in the sky.  Paul phoned his wife and learned that the volcano Sierra Negra on Isabela Island was erupting, first time for this one in 28 years.

October 23, 2005 – Sunday –
Awoke at 5:30 a.m., music played at 6 a.m. as a wake up call.  Buffet breakfast was served at 6:30 a.m., and eggs cooked to order.  We had a different tropical fruit juice freshly squeezed each morning and an ample supply of fresh fruit in addition to the usual cereals, meats, cheeses, muffins, toast and bacon.

At 8 a.m. we put on our life vests (small and flat, but with the yellow pull to inflate if needed) and shoes (all must remain on rear platform of yacht … so we do not introduce seeds from one island to another island) and boarded two pangas for the beach on Espanola (Hood) Island, Gardner Bay (p. 231 Fitter book).  We had a wonderful beach walk and then time to stroll around on our own.  The beach was covered with Sea Lions and more Sea Lions and NEW Sea Lion pups.  We also saw Audubon’s Shearwater, Masked Booby (grey feet), Swallow Tail Gull, Yellow Warbler and Mockingbirds.  A group of Mockingbirds had a noisy territorial dispute and lined up and “fought” like human gangs.  We boarded our pangas and returned to the yacht at 10:30 a.m.  People put on wet suits to snorkel (not all of us did this) and Howard was the only one to snorkel daily without a wet suit, but he found the waters warmer than he had expected.  (The people in wet suits said they were glad they were wearing them however and concluded that Howard’s “extra insulation” must be helping him…)  We met in the lounge at 10:45 to get snorkel information and then that group left.

Some of our island landings were “dry” where we could wear walking shoes, and the others were “wet” where we slid over side of panga into the shallow water and walked in to the beach … this could be barefoot for sandy beaches or with all purpose shoes when rocky.

After lunch we boarded pangas for another landing on Espanola (Hood) Island this time at Punta Suarez.  There were Sea Lions on the jetty steps (hand-clapping is the approved method of encouraging them to move out of the way) and nearby marine iguanas and Blue-footed Boobys.  This is the nesting area for the Waved Albatross, the largest bird that breeds in Galapagos with an estimated 12,000 pairs (pg. 26 Fitter book).  Susan and also Bruce decided the 4 km trail of large boulders was too rough for them.  They returned to a panga and two crewmen for a cruise along the island, but with 6 to 8 ft. swells it became too rough and was cut short for safety reasons … it was too rough for me (Susan) to take any photographs on this ride.  Daily we saw Frigatebirds.  Everyone returned to the Integrity, after social hour and dinner Paul did a good geology Power Point presentation.  The day was sunny, bright blue sky and very comfortable possibly in mid-70’s and not humid as most of us expected.  Monday is one of two laundry days, a plastic bag placed in each cabin Sun. evening and then picked up when the beds are turned down.  We didn’t have any laundry done, but more was done on Friday.  This is all included, no charge.

October 24, 2005 – Monday –
Awoke at 5:30 a.m., music at 6 a.m. and breakfast at 6:30 a.m.  Somewhat cloudy.  We had a wet landing on Floreana Island – Punta Cormoran (pg. 243 Fitter book).  We again saw many many Sea Lions and new pups, we took a fairly steep trail seeing Black-Necked Stilt bird, Yellow Warbler, Blue-footed Boobys, sea turtles, Sting Rays, and Flamingo’s that nest by a large salt lagoon!!  We also visited a white sand beach called “Flour Beach” due to the fineness of the sand.  We also saw Mangroves.  We landed and left from “Green Beach” due to the olivine.  We returned to the Integrity about 10:20 and we decided to do a late lunch.  Howard and others went snorkeling at Devil’s Crown.  Integrity moved over to Devil’s Crown, picked up the snorkelers then we made a wet landing on Floreana – Post Office Bay (pg. 244 Fitter book).  We made the short walk to the “Post Office Barrel” a historic site.  We went through the post cards and some of our group left cards for future visitors to pick up.  We picked one up addressed to people in Scottsdale which we will deliver to them.  We returned to Integrity via panga as usual, had lunch and Integrity got underway headed for Isabela Island and the volcano … slight shift in plans.

The captain of the Integrity had contacted sources on the islands and arranged a visit to Sierra Negra Volcano for us that had been erupting for about 48 hours.  We rested in our cabins and packed backpacks or fanny packs for the trip to see the volcano, taking jackets for the cool/cold night air.  We boarded our pangas and rode to the small town Puerto Villamil (5,000 people) on Isabela Island where we made a dry landing.  Seventeen of us got into a small van that was waiting for us (took two of the Integrity crew to assist us), and were off towards the volcano, driving for 30 minutes before parking with other vehicles at 5:30 p.m.  We all started the trek up to the volcano (the sun sets at 6 p.m. being on the equator).  We walked in horse paths, sometimes three, other times two or one, and none were in straight lines, and up, up, up we went.  Being one of the slower ones, the Integrity’s chief engineer Power Altasuya walked up with me.  We arrived at top of the caldera (rim of crater about 6 miles in diameter) at about 6:10 p.m.  We heard the constant roar or rumble of the volcano as soon as we got out of the van. The lava display was spectacular, shooting high into the sky from several vents and long rivers of lava flowing down into the caldera, quite a sight!  This truly was a once in a lifetime experience.  About 6:30 six of us began the hike back to the van with two flashlights in the dark.  Power Altasuya walked with me and we arrived at the van around 7:35 p.m., the rest of the group arrived at 8:30 p.m., then the 30 minute ride back to the main dock in town.  Billy who is host of Integrity figured the roundtrip hike was five miles.  Boarded the two pangas and motored out to the Integrity in the dark.  We arrived back at the Integrity and had a great dinner at 9:15 p.m.  The Integrity got underway for the other side of the island and arrived there about 3 a.m.; we were told but were asleep.  We asked to be called if volcano was showing, but it wasn’t due to some clouds.

October 25, 2005 – Tuesday –
At 5 a.m. Paul called that we could possibly see top of volcano and lava glow.  It was pretty overcast but Ted, Glen, Howard and I joined Paul on deck.  After that Howard and I visited with the captain on the bridge.  We stopped between two islands, Fernandina and Isabela.  Howard and I went to the bridge to watch the anchoring and lowering of the two pangas at 6:30 a.m.  We had breakfast at 7 a.m.

On Monday we saw the Poseidon, a ship for National Geographic cruises, that has 80 passengers.  Tuesday we saw the Eclipse that has 48 passengers.  The number of people allowed to visit each island is tightly regulated.  Our guide Paul, who also guides for other cruise companies, says the Integrity visits more islands than any other tours (we visited a total of ten islands).

At 7:30 a.m. we left in two pangas for Fernandina – Punta Espinosa (pg. 242 Fitter book), we had good hike on both sand and lava and returned to Integrity at 10:45 a.m.  We saw a whale skeleton (wasn’t there in July the last time Paul visited the island).  We saw Galapagos Sea Lions, Marine Iguanas, Green Sea Turtles, Lava Lizards, Flightless Cormorants (observed courtship, nests, and babies), Galapagos Penguin, red, black and white Mangrove (trees), and Sally Lightfoot (red) Crabs under a bright blue sky.  We then returned to the Integrity.  Howard and three others went snorkeling before lunch.  At 3 p.m. two pangas with ten of us cruised the area looking at the Sea Turtles (dozens and dozens).  We also saw Galapagos Penguins, Blue-footed Boobys, Pelicans, other sea birds, Sea Lions and Marine Iguanas.  We went into a very large sea cave and observed the wildlife.  We wore jackets due to a nice breeze under bright blue skies.  Raised anchor and left this anchorage at 4:45 p.m.  Integrity has desalination system and makes 2,500 gallons of fresh water daily operating 18 hours daily.  Another good social hour and very delicious dinner.

We rounded the top of Isabela Island where two currents meet, some rough water for awhile.  We crossed the Equator twice, once going north and once going south; and did this again on Thursday and made one landing north of the Equator on Tower Island.

October 26, 2005 – Wednesday –
Awoke to clouds, but the sky rapidly brightened.  We had breakfast at 6:30 a.m. and at 7:20 a.m. boarded the pangas for a wet landing on Santiago Island – James Bay, Puerto Egas and Espumilla Beach (pg. 227 Fitter book).  We saw Galapagos Sea Lions and pups, Fur Seals, huge crabs, many Marine Iguanas, Galapagos Dove, and Frigatebirds diving for seal vomit.  We returned to Integrity at 9:30 a.m.  At 10:15 a.m. Howard and others left to snorkel and Susan went with them; as she slid over the panga side the hem of her shorts caught on a handle so took a bit of doing to get off and into the water for her walk to the beach.  She sat on the beach some and then mostly walked among the Galapagos Sea Lions taking pictures and enjoying the rock formations, beach and animals.  Howard was startled by a sea lion while snorkeling but managed to get two pictures of it.

Somewhat overcast with broken clouds and some blue sky.  About 11 a.m. the HEAT was turned on in the lounge / dining room and left on for the duration of our cruise.  Many people wearing sweaters.  Orca “Killer” Whale sightings as one played around the ship for awhile.  Earlier in the week we saw two Humpback Whales as they spouted.  Breezy with white caps on ocean.  Most people go barefoot on the Integrity, a few wear socks.  Each cabin has individual controls for A/C and heat; we kept the A/C on and our temperature at 76 degrees.  The small refrigerator was so handy for drinking water.

Anchored at 3:05 p.m. Isla Bartolome and Sullivan Bay (pg.228 Fitter book).  Bright blue sky with a few clouds.  There was a dry landing for the hike up Summit Trail, over 400 steep steps, for great view that is often used in guide books.  Marjorie and Susan both stayed on the boat and didn’t make the climb.  Saw Magnificent Frigatebirds, and other sea birds.  Good dinner as usual.  No assigned seating so we shift around and we all get to eat with and visit with everyone several times.

October 27, 2005 – Thursday –
Dropped anchor at 5:40 a.m. north of the Equator in Darwin Bay of Genovesa (Tower) Island (pg 245-246 Fitter book), the most isolated of the main islands.  There was a bright blue sky with a few mixed clouds.  6:30 a.m. breakfast.  Genovesa Island is place for multiple sea birds.  Crossed the Equator coming north and crossed it again going south … for total of four crossings.  At 7:30 a.m. we left in pangas for Prince Phillip’s Steps …. rough uneven lava rock steps in side of cliff.  I decided it was too dangerous for me so stayed in panga and the two crew men took me sightseeing on the way back to Integrity as I took photographs.  I saw Fur Seals, various Gulls, Great Frigatebirds with baby chicks in nests (several), and a school of yellow tailed mullet (fish).  The hikers returned, then Howard, six others and Susan left at 10:45 for the seven to snorkel.  They saw large angel fish, red starfish, Fur Seals, Red-footed Boobies, Great Frigatebirds, more gulls and other sea birds.  Howard thought it was the best snorkeling yet.  We had lunch at 12:30 p.m.

At 3 p.m. the panga left for a wet landing on beach, the ocean water very bright turquoise blue.  We did a marvelous three quarter mile hike along beach and nesting areas for Great Frigatebirds, Red-Footed Boobys, Red-billed Tropicbird, Swallow-tailed Gulls, and also saw some Galapagos Sea Lions, Masked Boobies, Ground Finches, Ruddy Turnstone with birds sitting on nests on the ground and in bushes, others building nests, and many  young chicks and some yearlings.  The fuzzy chicks were adorable.  Believe it was here that we saw Frigatebirds grabbing Boobys by the wing and trying to get them to regurgitate their food so they could steal it.  Frigatebirds are real bandits.  We returned to Integrity about 4:45 p.m.  Before dinner we reviewed the photographs we had taken on our four digital cameras and tried to delete those we felt weren’t good enough to save in order to make room for more.  At 6:30 p.m. Paul lectured on ocean currents.  We had dinner of duck l’orange at 7:10 p.m.  At 8:20 p.m. raised anchor and headed to the open Pacific Ocean.

October 28, 2005 – Friday –
Awoke at 5:30 anchored by Seymour Island (pg. 241 Fitter book), our ninth island to visit.  Broken clouds.  Breakfast at 7 a.m.  Found Power Altasuya and gave him an extra tip for helping Susan up and down Sierra Negra Volcano.  Pangas left at 7:30 a.m. for dry landing.  Again had to clap to get Galapagos Sea Lions to move off of the rock steps.  We did a circle walk around the island in bright sunshine.  We saw many Great and Magnificent Frigatebirds courting by inflating their large “red balloons” on chest (only visible during breeding season); saw a new born seal lion pup and other very young pups, observed various lizards and birds and a beautiful ocean with surf breaking on the island.  We returned to Integrity at 9:50 a.m., Howard and others left via panga at 10:30 a.m. for additional snorkeling.

Integrity left at 11 a.m. for South Plaza Island (pg. 229 Fitter book), our tenth and final island to visit.  3 p.m. we boarded pangas for a dry landing on South Plaza Island, Galapagos Sea Lions on steps.  We did a circle hike around the island seeing many Galapagos Sea Lions, Marine Iguanas, Land Iguanas, tall cactus, Long-Tailed Tropicbirds and other sea birds.  The trail around the island was very windy on the cliff over the Pacific Ocean.  Here we saw a Galápagos Sea Lion lying under a tall cactus.  Paul and Carol held up small sticks and Frigatebirds swooped down and took them... the Frigatebird has a wingspan of 5 to 6 feet.  There was a large bull Galapagos Sea Lion lying just above our steps to go to the pangas and he did not wish to move, it was a territorial thing as another bull was nearby.  The bull lunged at Paul, but finally moved so we could leave around 4:45 p.m.  We gave Paul, our guide, his tip and placed the crew’s tip in locked box and those funds will be evenly divided among the workers.

7 p.m. cocktails and later a barbeque were scheduled on the upper open deck for our final night, but it was just too cold, so moved the eating into the dining room.  During cocktail hour all of the crew came up and we all “talked” as much as possible given that most of them knew little English and most of us knew little Spanish.  Non-alcoholic and alcoholic mixed drinks were served to passengers and the crew.  Marsha is fluent in Spanish (as is Paul our guide) and was very helpful to all of us.  We had barbequed steak, hot dogs, large lobster tails, plus several salads and potatoes.  There was a surprise birthday cake for Ted’s 80th birthday on Saturday.  About 9 p.m. we returned to our cabin to finish packing.  The Integrity pulled up anchor and started towards Baltra Island.

October 29, 2005 – Saturday –
We docked on Baltra Island at 6 a.m., had our final breakfast at 7 a.m.  While we ate, our luggage was taken off the Integrity.  At 8:20 a.m. we had our last panga ride and were taken to the dock.  There were many Galapagos Sea Lions including several sleeping on benches with nice sun shades.  We boarded a bus for the airport, luggage was checked and we had time for additional shopping.  Paul stayed with us until we went through the passenger security screening.  His wife and two children (ages 4 and 6) were to meet him at the airport and then go in a small plane to view and photograph Volcano Sierra Negra.  We had a good flight on TAME to Quito where we were met with a bus, driver and Zulema Munoz.  We were taken to the Hilton Colon Hotel, went to Executive check in on 17th floor, we were in room 1461 and our luggage was soon delivered including the duffle bag we had stored there while we went to the islands.  We left the hotel and walked to a large “market” and did a bit of shopping and sightseeing, back to hotel about 4:45 p.m. with a few rain drops … the first we had seen.   At 6:30 p.m. we joined some of our group in the Executive Lounge for happy hour.  At 7 p.m. there was a nice farewell dinner for us in Portifinos.  Back to the room about 9:30 p.m. and Zulema called to ask about dinner and several other questions.

Sunday 30, 2005 – Sunday -- 
Set our alarm clock for 4:30 a.m. in Quito, Ecuador which was 1:30 a.m. MST in Phoenix.  Luggage was picked up at 5 a.m.  Gloria and the van arrived at 5:25 a.m. and nine of us left for the airport.  Bob and Bobbie had been picked up at 3:30 a.m., and Bruce and Inta had an afternoon flight to Lima, Peru.  Our AA flt 932 left Quito at 8:09 a.m. and breakfast was served on the plane.  Were due in Miami at noon, daylight savings time ended at 2 a.m.  Hurricane Wilma had hit Miami and about three million people had been without power, but it had been restored to the airport.  We had to pick up luggage and go through customs in Miami.  We then boarded AA 1103 and it left Miami at 1:26 p.m. for Dallas.  In Dallas we went to the new Terminal D and had time to eat huge hamburger at a sports restaurant (all non-smoking) and left Dallas on AA flt 1699 and arrived in Phoenix much later than expected.  Got luggage, went for car and then stopped at Fry’s on way home for fresh milk and bread … we arrived home at 10 p.m. MST, very tired, but happy to have had a marvelous two weeks to remember.  All of our fellow travelers were such interesting and nice people and none of us smoked.

Howard has posted video clips and still photographs to his web site at:

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