Galapagos Day 4: Kicker Rock with Sharks

Cruising toward Kicker Rock

The moon in the clouds 

This day we were up with the sunrise as we cruised west away from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno to Kicker Rock. Kicker Rock sits off the west coast of San Cristobal Island. It is the remains of an old volcanic cone that is now split into three pieces. The highest point of Kicker Rock is nearly 500 feet above sea level. The steep slopes of Kicker Rock are popular nesting sites for Blue-footed Boobies, Frigatebirds, and Tropicbirds. The waters surrounding the rock are inhabited by many sharks, rays, sea lions, and green sea turtles.

Getting closer to Kicker Rock

Sunrise over San Cristobal Island. Kicker Rock on the left.

After a very early breakfast we jumped into the pangas and headed toward Kicker Rock which was shining gold in the early morning sun. Sea turtles swam in the waves around us. We drove straight into the narrowest of the two crevasses that split the rock in three. The outlet from this crevasse on the opposite side of the rock is impassable by boat as it is too narrow. It was exciting and kind of terrifying to bob up and down on the huge swells with the rock walls towering above us, just a thin slit of sky filled with wheeling frigatebirds visible. The panga pilots had fun playing chicken with each other within the crevasse. A sea lion also joined us and barked, its voice echoing all around us, repeating back at us over and over.

Inside the crevasse

We then headed around the rocks passing through the wider of the two channels separating the three parts of Kicker Rock. Young, dark colored Sally Lightfoot crabs clung to the sides of the rock with sea birds nesting above.

 Cruising through the second channel, Kicker Rock.

There's something magical about this giant lump of ash and rock rising out of the clear waters of the surround ocean. Something undefinable and enormously engaging about this glowing bit of rock. We rode the waves in awe of its presence.

We boarded the Aida Maria and stood on the bow as we circumnavigated Kicker Rock again. Down in the waves some sort of iridescent sea creature swam in the thousands. I couldn't tell if they were fish or squid or what but what followed it was spectacular. Suddenly, a huge group of Galapagos sharks cruised by, golden in the sun lit turquoise water. One after another after another after another.

All too soon it was time to cruise back to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno to disembark the Aida Maria for the very last time. We were bussed a short way to the very small airport there to return to Guayaquil.

The Aida Maria. You can see the open door to the cabin Traveler Ten and I shared on the top deck on the right.

We flew AeroGal back to Guayaquil. They, like LAN Airlines impressed me with their service. I also, as a graphic designer, really like their logo and the way they use frigatebirds in the artwork wrapping their airplanes and on their website.

Reaching the airport in Guayaquil began the next leg of our Ecuadorian adventure. This Traveler mentioned in my first post that we hadn't actually booked all our travel to various locations quite yet when we started the trip. So there we were with reservations in the Cloud Forest, up in the Andes, two days hence and no way to get there. We had been wavering between flying and driving. Finally, we decided to drive into the Andes but with a big detour west first, to the beach for New Years. This blog isn't called Not as the Crow Flies for nothing. Sometimes you need to go the wrong direction to get where you are supposed to be going.

So began the in airport adventure of trying to acquire a rental vehicle. Travelers Nine, Thirteen and I hit nearly every rental car counter in the airport without much success (Traveler Ten was getting caffeine, also important). It was the day before New Years Eve and rental vehicles were an endangered species. I lucked out at Thrifty and had the choice of a car so small that it would have required two Travelers to sit on the roof with all our luggage or an extended cab pick-up truck. The truck was PERFECT.  I think the guy at the counter was taken aback by the fact that this crazy American woman was so excited to find a huge truck available. And thus we acquired the fifth member of our fellowship: Frodo (following upon our theme of eating like hobbits).  Frodo the Truck would take us into the mountains and past mighty volcanoes and home again. Traveler Nine was dubbed Gandalf, Traveler Thirteen became Samwise, Traveler Ten became Pippin (most suitably named, indeed) and I became Merry to her Pippin, especially when it came to the fireworks (all of which will be revealed in my next post).

 Puerto Baquerizo Moreno

 Sea lions in boats, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno