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Excerpt from the Journal of Olds – Day 410 – Ecuador – Galapagos – Island Tour – Part 4 – Rabida y Cerro Dragon

The next day was our last on the tour-proper and despite it having been amazing up to this point we were in for a real treat. We awoke next to Rabida and were soon on its red shores on a stroll amidst a wealth of wildlife. Cacti specked the landscape while birds dropped in, lizards slithered by and crabs hustled this way and that.

All the while we were enlightened by facts, figures and tales by our guide Daniel, augmenting the experience with context for each sight and scene. Before long my day’s fascination took hold – there’s nothing quite like watching Blue-Footed Boobies fish. They cruise over the coastline watching for movement just below the waves and when they spot an opportunity they pull their wings in and plunge like missiles into the water at immense speed. I became obsessed with this, tuning my camera as best I could in an attempt to capture something of this brutal spectacle.

Before long I was dragged away from my revelry back to the boat for another bout of snorkelling. This time we were to swim alongside a coastal cliff – before long we realised we were in for a treat from above and below.

Probably the single best snorkelling experience I’ve ever had, we were treated to Manta Rays and Turtles below. At a shout from someone else in the group I looked up to see a penguin swim right on past my mask! A little further in we were soon amidst a huge shoal of silver fish, moving in perfect harmony as almost an entity in itself. Unbeknownst to me this meant I was in for an even more spectacular event – within moments it was dinner time for the very birds I’d been watching dive-bomb on land! From above water we could see them in action, the familiar arrow-head dives as they attempted to snatch their food. As I gazed upwards I saw one particularly close Blue-Footed Booby shape to descend and managed to duck below the surface in time to see it penetrate the waves and the shoal in a glorious flurry of activity – I had a smile a mile wide and it only served to heighten my fascination with them.

On our journey back to the Zodiac we were accompanied by a curious Sea Lion, gracefully gliding, circling, swooping and spinning by the group which topped off the jaunt nicely.

It was back to the catamaran for some relaxation, then some lunch, then some more relaxation. These periods of downtime are essential to help refresh yourself for the next adventure. For us this was to be Cerro Dragon.

Here we took a walk amidst the homes of Marine and Land Iguanas – the black / red / green aquatic algae-munchers and the brilliant yellow land dwellers. For me they exude something unlike any other animal – their vibrant colours combined with their unwavering, piercing stare make them the perfect subject for a budding camera enthusiast. We were given somewhat free reign to roam and after a scoot back down towards the drop-off point in the hope that my earlier observations remained true I found my new favourite airborne friends – the Blue-Footed Boobies – up to their old tricks feasting on the local fish. As our last stop it felt like the perfect way to finish and I probably dropped another hundred rapid-fire photos in an attempt to grab a handful that would serve to highlight their majesty.

We returned to the boat and enjoyed our last night together despite the temperature drop, with the evening’s events stationed indoors, much beer and exchanging of details, all supplemented by another fine feast. Eventually we all retired to our cabins, collectively glowing as a wonderful trip drew to a close.