North Seymour; a birder's paradise!
Having long awaited a public bus, we were finally transferred to a small dock, where we met our captain and some of the crew and were assisted into a small inflatable zodiac that took us to our home for the next week, the glorious if tiny, fourteen berth, Nemo 1 Catamaran.
Chef Eddie had prepared us a delicious lunch of pasta and salad and by the time it was enthusiastically consumed, our luggage had arrived. Cabins were then distributed and fittings of masks and flippers for snorkelling followed, as Nemo 1 cruised to her next harbour, North Seymour Island, an uplifted, fairly flat island with sandy soils, strewn with boulders. The island is famed for its good nesting sites for large populations of magnificent frigate birds and blue-footed boobies.
Friendly sea lions make swimming unforgetable!
Our baptism into the world of snorkelling was first up, with my initial venture into the deep seas that surround North Seymour. I was not the only novice, but many were seasoned and fearless in the water and relished every opportunity to dive as deep as their snorkels allowed. The reward for my hesitant and reluctant attempt at snorkelling was the company of a young sea lion, who did all within its means to boost my confidence in the water. Defying the three metre boundary rule between humans and animals itself, the sea lion chose to play, swim and even brush against myself and another cruise fellow for a good ten to fifteen minutes. This experience was amongst the highlights of my trip; a dream come true on my very first day!
The ever obliging and supportive crew and guide Carlos, kept watch over us in the water, equiped us with float vests if we needed them and were at the ready should we raise our hand to reboard the zodiac.
An hour later we returned to the Nemo 1 for an energy boosting snack and rehydrating drinks, to prepare us for our first venture onto North Seymour Island, one of the richest habitats for wildlife within the Galapagos.
The wildlife was amazingly unfearful of our presence and we were able to get within 3 metres of all the diverse and incredibly photogenic species. Boobies and frigate birds were busy undertaking their courtship rituals and raising young. They were present in their thousands, along with Galapagos land iguanas and small, speedy lava lizards, who enjoy basking on rocks and eating the dead skin off their bigger cousins in a beneficial symbiotic relationship. Plant life included opuntia cacti and low growing shrubs, evolved to cope with extremely low rainfall and high salt content of North Seymour.
Upon returning to the Nemo 1, we were greeted with pre dinner nibbles and the option of a beer, or mixed drink. I had my first of many excellent gin and tonics at this time. Having had time to wash off the sand and sunscreen, we headed to the top deck to enjoy the glorious sunset, followed by a dinner of prawns, local fish and salad, washed down with white wine and accompanied by wonderful conversation amongst my fellow passengers, as well as the round the clock care from our amazing crew .
Calm waters and magnificent stars to gaze at left me falling asleep on the upper deck, for some hours. Eventually I made my way down into my cabin, careful not to disturb my room mate, who had long been sleeping soundly.
I was beginning to relish life aboard the Nemo 1 and realised the Galapagos was already exceeding my high expectations!