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Diving with Darwin: Day One

On the flight to Baltra Island I felt so lucky I kept pinching myself. At the pretty, secluded, lodge in Puerto Ayora spiced iced tea greeted us and we were shown to our beautiful room. A few metres away a couple of sunbathing sealions snoozed with marine iguanas on the decking, as the azure sea lapped beneath: brilliant!

Our lunch was a delicious buffet of local delicacies. There was just enough time to digest as we sat, toes dangling off the decking with the marine iguanas and sealions, before we met our guide Fernanda. We took a small boat to snorkel with sealions and hoped to spot some whitetip sharks. The sea was choppy but in we tumbled with the playful spiraling sealions! With grace and agility young sealion pairs took turns to twist in the waves. Lithe and speedy they enticed us to dive down, as deep as we novice free-divers could, whilst they, the experts, showed us how it was done, plunging out of sight. I was instantly captivated, smitten with the Galápagos.

Cruising to Tortuga Bay we snorkeled, hunting for baby whitetip sharks, turtles or rays but the visibility was too low. Instead we took a short stroll to marvel at the marine iguanas as they lay in convivial heaps absorbing the sun. We were welcomed back with a warming spicy hot chocolate, very much appreciated as despite the high temperatures on land, the ocean had been chilly at 20 – 21 degrees (centigrade). At our 7pm dive briefing I selected a 7mm full suit for the morning dives and arranged to take our breakfast in a box, as we would be leaving at 5.50 am.

Dinner tonight was deliciously seared tuna served on the decking as the sea lapped once again beneath us. I am heading to bed now on bright white sheets in a deluxe room with air con, i-pod docks and wi-fi – not quite Darwin’s conditions.

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