Richard leaves the hotel with all the luggage to arrange an early check-in for our flight to San Cristobal in the Galapagos. All the bags need to go through the Galapagos National Park scanner first and then get checked into the Avianca flight. Unfortunately no Avianca staff turn up until the last minute but we are still able to arrange the boarding cards while guests sit comfortably at our hotel. The timing works out perfectly. Richard just about completes sorting boarding cards as Dawn arrives at the airport with our guests. Straight through to the deeparture lounge. All very efficient!
The flight to Galapagos is just 90 minutes but we are served a snack and a drink on route. As we descend towards San Cristobal Island the excitement builds! Our National Park permits have all been completed in advance so our immigration procedure is prompt. There is no bag carousel at San Cristobal Airport, just an paved area adjacent to immigration! We pick up our bags and walk 10 metres to meet our local guides Fernando, Gaby and Jonathan. Local buses drive us to the quayside to join our private zodiac transfer to the National Geographic Islander. In no time at all we are greeted by Dr Lynn Fowler, our expedition leader, and Alexa, our hotel manager. We settle into our cabins before joining a welcome meeting and our first lunch.
After a siesta, Lynn gives a brief introduction about the week ahead and we disembark for a short zodiac ("panga") ride and a walk along a white sandy beach at Cerro Brujo. We encounter sealions, a great blue heron, oyster catchers, yellow warblers and more. We are also trying to see one of four species of mocking bird that is endemic only to San Cristobal Island. Many guests also enjoy a swim. Just at the last minute when the last panga is ready to leave the beach, a few of us spot the mocking bird!
Captain Pablo Garces welcomes us to a cocktail party this evening and the expedition team and some officers and crew are formally presented.
Our expedition week in Galapagos has begun!