Day 5 was a slightly easier day, much to everyone’s relief! Due to national park restrictions, we could not land in this area, so explored the coast of Isabela in two panga rides and a snorkelling session. The first panga ride took us up the coast, seeing birds nesting with chicks, sea lions, marine iguanas, penguins, and a number of rays. We were also lucky enough to see some of the elusive Galapagos penguins, which are smaller than those we saw in Ushuaia and closer to those that can be seen in South Africa.
Once back on board, we fulfilled our promise to visit the bridge, and the Captain let Lauren sail the boat – this wasn’t like the cargo ship that would have taken a mile to register any movement and was probably pre-programmed anyway – the Letty is steered manually and Lauren got to hold the wheel for a bit as we sailed the Bolivar channel.
Over lunch we sailed to a second bay on Isabela, Tagus bay, where there was all sorts of ‘graffitti’ carved into the almost-sheer sides of the cove – mainly by the Ecuadorian army that used the area as a training ground in less enlightened times.
The snorkelling was, again, fantastic, although a manta ray we spotted from deck had disappeared by the time we got in, and then it was back on board to get ready for panga ride number two, this time into the interior of the islands, surrounded by mangroves and full of huge turtles, golden, eagle and manta rays, various birds, big fish and an eerie quiet. At times all the information from the guides could get a little overwhelming, so it was nice to drift along with minimal intervention, enjoying the peace and surroundings.