Tales from the Galápagos Islands
A Galapagos Penguin stands alone near Isla Bartolome
Only about 50 kilometers south of the Equator, the Galápagos Penguins of Isla Bartolomé are the northernmost residents of the penguin family.  We were lucky enough to spot four of them during an afternoon visit.
Sea lions greet the tourists on the beach at Isla Santa Fe. April 4 -- We saw our first penguins today, first one and then three more on the rocks at Isla Bartolomé.  The Galápagos Penguins are just little guys, but this is as far north as you'll find any penguin.  It was an exciting discovery.

We also did a little climb to a volcano rim.  It didn't seem like much, but most of it was under the ocean.  The lava flows were only about 100 years old though, so it was a pretty rugged and rocky landscape.  It seems almost like the surface of the moon.

There's not much plant life on this little island.  The lava cactus is most impressive, but there's not much of it either.  Overall, the Galápagos seems to be a pretty rugged environment for plants, but that's all part of its unique nature.

We had a pretty exciting landing for our hike up to the top.  They call it a "dry landing", which it mostly was except that the sea was pretty choppy and the waves were washing up over the little concrete jetty.  Arturo, our boatman, had to take our little boat up to the rocks nearby and we had to jump off between the waves.  Fortunately we all disembarked and later made it back onto the boats safely.

This evening after dinner, four sea lions showed up along the side of our boat, mostly just playing around and chasing fish.  All of a sudden there were hundreds of fish jumping out of the water.  It wasn't quite a feeding frenzy, sea lions certainly like to play.  When you're in the water with them, they'll swim right up to you for a good look.  On the beaches, if they're not too relaxed, they'll sometimes wander over to check you out.  It's a friendly crowd on the beaches of the Galápagos and the sea lions made us feel welcome wherever we went.

Overall, this was a pretty good day.

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Isla Santa Fe was our first close-up beach encounter with the sea lions of the Galapagos.  These animals knew how to relax, but often seemed curious about the strangers in their midst.  As comfortable as they seemed to be, however, it was important for us not to touch them.
Blue-footed boobies on Isla Seymour in the Galapagos Islands
When the blue-footed boobies of Isla Seymour engaged in their courtship dance, it always attracted attention.
Sailing back to the Guantanamera at the end of the day.
We all got on and off the islands on little boats called "pangas".  Wet landings meant we jumped off the boat into shallow water at a beach, while dry landings usually meant we pulled up to a concrete jetty.

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