Sunday, March 13, 2005 - Isabela Island: Derek Cove
Isabela is the largest island in the archipelago, 1,800 square miles and 80 miles in length, over half the surface area of the Galapagos Islands. Five of the six volcanoes that form the island are still active. Isabela is usually only visited by trips with longer itineraries. Very few boats travel to the western islands on a one-week tour such as ours. We specifically booked on the Cachalote so we could visit Isabela and Fernandina. These islands are more isolated, so there's no crowds, and this is where the penguins live. We want penguins!
Sunrise at Isla Isabela
I awoke this morning to the most gorgeous sunrise yet, coming up over Isabela. We were supposed to land at 8:00 a.m. at Punta Morena for a walk on lava where we would get a closer look at the volcanoes and have a chance at seeing flightless cormorants and some more flamingoes. It was a beautiful morning, but the landing was judged too rough, too dangerous to land. Rats! Twice in a row. I hope this doesn't continue.
Too rough to land
But Juan has a "Plan B." There is another place to go, Derek Cove in Elizabeth Bay, that is not often open to visitors. He says that in 17 years of guiding, this will be only his third time here. This site is apparently a recently opened site available to visit only when conditions are too rough to land at other landing sites. It is marine only, no landing, which means we'll be snorkeling. Juan says it's a very special place for us to go. Two more hours of motoring to get there.
Derek Cove definitely turned out better than a scorching hot walk across lava ever could have been. The water was much cooler here than the other snorkeling we'd done, but it was not uncomfortable. The cove was crystal clear and calm, and we swam with sea turtles and sea lions!
Single sea lion
Sun-lit sea lion
The sea lions were very curious and playful, and they kept following Tom and me around. Wonderful, magical, and I got some superb photographs. I could have swam here all day, but we only had about an hour.
Sleepy sea lion
Speedy sea lion
Surprised sea lion
Several sea lions