We crossed the equator for the 6th and last time overnight, arriving at Santiago island by breakfast time. We got a lie in til 7am today! Mind you, we needed it, there were two hikes and two snorkelling sessions planned for today.
The first walk, on Santiago, was along the shoreline, and full of the usual sea creatures and land animals – what made this particularly special was the grottos and caves formed by the rocks, where sea lions had set up nurseries for their pups to play. We sat and watched the pups jumping and twisting and turning and exploring for ages. One even stuck its head out of the water and had a good sniff of my shoe, poor thing. We also saw some of the smaller fur sealions, just lazily hanging out on the ledges.
Our first snorkelling session was off the beach on Santiago, and was one of the best sessions yet – despite being pretty chilly as I had ditched the damn wetsuit for good. Getting it on dry was one thing, but wet was almost impossible in the short turnarounds we had between activities – I wasn’t the only one to ‘brave’ the cold sea rather than the wetsuit!
Back on board for lunch, then off to Rabida – a stunning island of deep red sand (caused by high iron content). Highlight of this was not so much the walk (it was hot, and by this point we had started screening out the naturalists’ voices – enthusiastic as they were, some of the information by this point was repeated, and I was starting to wish they’d talk less and let us quietly contemplate the animals/nature without the constant information overload) but the snorkelling after. We swam for a good while with a big shark (just about bigger than Lauren – I saw them side by side – we aren’t talking great whites here) that seemed interested, circling us and coming close, but not threateningly) and saw another marine turtle and some of the biggest variety of fish in the whole trip.
As we returned to shore we were joined by a playful sea lion, dodging in between us, under us, behind us, keeping us thoroughly confused as it approached and disappeared, only to pop up right in our faces… definitely more agile than us in our snorkelling gear and flippers!
A nice way to end our last snorkelling session of the trip.