Posts Tagged ‘Galapagos’

We Leave the Galapagos, With Killer Whales As An Escort

November 23rd, 2008 at 1:25 am (AST) by Jake Richter

Our week in the Galapagos Islands went by almost too quickly. Every day seemed like it was the best day yet, and then the next day would be even better.

Along the way we’ve experienced marine iguanas grazing on algae underwater, a pod of over a hundred dolphins bow riding with the National Geographic Polaris (our home for the week), a baby Galapagos penguin being fed by its mother, snorkeled with white tip sharks, witnessed the mating rituals of blue footed boobies, and seen all sorts of other amazing acts and existence of nature. And perhaps the most amazing thing was how close we could get to the wildlife – the birds, sea lions, lizards, and iguanas cared not a whit that we were nearby. Made us feel part of nature as opposed to interlopers.

But yesterday (Friday), our last day of exploration, was definitely beyond expectation as a ship-wide call went out on the public address system that a pod of orcas (killer whales) had been sited nearby and that anyone who wanted a closer look had to be in the reception area within 5 minutes. I roused Linda and Krystyana from a mid-afternoon nap and we all made it down to the Zodiac launching point at Reception just in time. Bas was just not able to wake up enough to come along, sadly.

We spent the next twenty minutes in a Zodiac chasing orcas as they fed on a seal and a green turtle. It was a small pod – only three whales, but enough to keep us completely captivated. And thanks to the scraps their feeding left behind we had the added bonus of a huge flock of frigate birds chasing the pod to help tell us where the orcas were at any time.

A killer whale (orca) grabbed our attention off the coast of Santiago, Galapagos

A killer whale (orca) grabbed our attention off the coast of Santiago, Galapagos

We ended the day with an hour and half walk around part of Santiago island, learning more about fur seals (which are actually a species of sea lion), geology, lava tubes, and marine iguanas, ending the exploration with the best sunset of the week long trip.

This morning (Saturday), we parted ways with Lindblad’s Polaris and all the great memories of the trip, the excellent service we received while on board, and the phenomenal depth of knowledge of all the naturalists whom we had the pleasure to go on expeditions with. We took with us the nearly 4,000 pictures we shot during the past week (sorted down to about 1,000 that we think are pretty good but still need to tag and label).

Jake studies up on Peru, sharing a bench with a Galapagos resident

Jake studies up on Peru, sharing a bench with a Galapagos resident

We are now in Lima, Peru, departing early in the morning for Cuzco, and then the Sacred Valley of the Incas for a couple of days before making our way to overnight at Machu Picchu.


The Galapagos Are… Wow!

November 17th, 2008 at 4:35 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

We made it to the Galapagos safe and sound on Saturday, and spent Saturday afternoon exploring the island of North Seymour, observing frigate birds and blue footed boobies nesting. Yesterday was spent around the island of Espanola – below the water and on land – getting cozy with sea lions, waved albatross, and iguanas, among other critters.

The wildlife here is remarkably lacking in timidity and you can get within a couple of feet of most creatures (as long as you stay on the clearly marked path) – much like a zoo without fences or aggressive creatures.

The photo opportunities have been phenomenal, and after only two days we have close to 1500 pictures. But while the accommodations here on the Lindblad National Geographic Polaris are great, as is the food and service, the Internet connection leaves a bit to be desired – it’s expensive and slow, but certainly better than not having a connection at all. But it will drastically limit our ability to upload lots of photos until we get someplace with a better connection in a week or two.

As such, here’s a single picture to share at the moment to give you a taste of our explorations in the Galapagos. Hope you enjoy it! See below.

Sea lion pups play in the surf on the island of Espanola in the Galapagos

Sea lion pups play in the surf on the island of Espanola in the Galapagos


The Final Journey of the Year – Ecuador, Galapagos, Peru, Machu Picchu

November 10th, 2008 at 3:53 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

We had been hoping to finish up a few more posts about New York, Costa Rica, and our time in Massachusetts a couple of weeks ago – especially about the great meals we had at Boston’s O Ya and L’Espalier – but that will have to wait until we have more time to write and post and review the thousands of photos we took in Canada and New England.

I ended up spending all of last week in Dallas on business, with no time for anything but the project I was there for. I got home to Bonaire two days ago in the early morning hours, and all of The Traveling Richters are due to be on a flight to Quito, Ecuador in the morning for the start of our final exploration of the year.

We will spend the rest of the week in and around Quito, exploring the colonial city, regional crafts and arts centers, and also will take typical tourist pictures of ourselves straddling the equator. On Saturday we start our time with Lindblad Expeditions with a flight to the Galapagos Islands, best known for where, approximately 175 years ago, Charles Darwin got his inspiration for the concept of natural selection as a key process in biological evolution. We will spend a week aboard a ship, exploring various islands, hoping to see Galapagos tortoises in their natural settings, marine iguanas, Darwin’s famous finches, large schools of sharks during our snorkels, and a plethora of other fauna. And maybe some flora too.

From the Galapagos, we fly back to the mainland, and then down to Lima, Peru, and from there to Cusco and by bus to the Sacred Valley of the Incas high in the Andes. A couple of days later we’ll be at the fabled Incan ruins of Machu Picchu – spending the night there. Then we’re down to Cusco for a couple of days before returning to Lima for a final night before parting ways with the folks from Lindblad Expeditions.

We’ll spend a morning being driven to Ica, the wine capital of Peru, spending the rest of the day and night there so that the following morning we can take a private plane over the mysterious Nazca Lines, before returning for a few days in Lima. To get back home we have to overnight in Quito and catch the direct flight back to Bonaire on KLM from there. We’ll be back home on December 4th. And I probably have to head back north for two weeks of consulting right after our return. Gotta love those frequent flyer miles.

At this point Linda and Bas are rather travel weary, so they will undoubtedly be glad when this final trip for the year is over. The only trip of any sort we have scheduled at this point for 2009 is a couple weeks in the southwest, centered around Tucson for the Renaissance Weekend conference, with a few days at a ski area in New Mexico at the end for the kids to enjoy (brr!!!) the snow. And we may head up to New Hampshire later in the year as well. But that’s it. For now.

Krystyana and I will attempt to post missives from our South American travels – hopefully the Spanish we learned in Costa Rica in September will be of use.


New Travel Plans Evolve – Galapagos, Nova Scotia, and Machu Picchu

June 2nd, 2008 at 5:27 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

The travel bug is never quite distant here in The Traveling Richters’ household.

We’ve just confirmed a trip starting in mid-November 2008 that will start us in Quito, Ecuador for a view days before we fly out to the Galapagos Islands to see the places that gave Charles Darwin his “Eureka!” moment about the idea of evolution and natural selection. Ten days later we get to Lima, Peru, and from there set forth on an expedition to see the high altitude village of Cuzco, and the even higher altitude Incan ruins of Machu Picchu before a return to Lima, and then ultimately home to Bonaire.

Prior to then we have a one week trip to Texas this month to see a concert and study the Alamo in San Antonio.

And we’re in the throes of trying to figure out exactly what all we want to do on a trip that starts us in Nova Scotia in early October 2008, and lands us in New Hampshire to visit family later in the month (hoping to catch some stunning fall foliage along the way, of course). Any suggestions or ideas would be welcome. One thing definitely on the list is to go out on the water with a Maine lobster man and learn more about the business of catching lobsters, firsthand.

We are also planning on hooking up with friends at a conference/retreat in Tucson, Arizona over President’s Day Weekend in February 2009.

Beyond that my tentative court and work schedule looks pretty full, so we’ll have to steal time for other trips as such time becomes available.

More details are in the Current Itineraries link at right.