Grace in the Galapagos

By:  MalamuteMan  •  Travel, Wildlife, Galapagos  •  one week ago  •  30 comments

Grace in the Galapagos

Seven days aboard the M/V Grace — A Wildlife Adventure


Even though I begin this article with where it all began for us, Quasar & The Grace, I had to throw in this little teaser with a few wildlife images, since, not to take anything away from the Grace which is wonderful in its own right, the wildlife were the stars of the show.


The M/V Grace   — The honeymoon yacht for Princess Grace (Grace Kelly) and Prince Rainier… and our home base for seven days of fun and adventure in the Galapagos Islands.

Quasar & The Grace

After we decided on the Galapagos for our first adventure following two years of Covid sequestration, our first task was to find a good company to help us put together this adventure. We researched several companies and eventually chose Quasar. Among the factors that drew us to Quasar was it’s   top rating by Travel and Leisure   and the fact that one of the boats they use was once the   honeymoon yacht of Princess Grace (Grace Kelly) and Prince Rainier of Monaco . Boy, did we nail it on the choice of Quasar! The accommodations, the service, and the character of this yacht could not have been better. Sixteen passengers with a dozen or more crew who attend to every detail, and two naturalist guides who know everything about these islands, including the history, zoology, botany, geology, and more.

Diane & Paul Schicke from Quasar helped us book this adventure and patiently answered nine zillion of my pedantic questions in the process.

One last detail… My wife and I are in our 70s. I have several physical issues. I am so very grateful to all the Quasar staff, and especially to Scarlet, who graciously assisted me with all my special needs.

Originally, I was going to show all these images in the order that I took them. But about half way through putting this article together I decided to abandon that idea because it was all getting too complicated, so the chronology is somewhat scrambled. There will be a little more about the crew and guides at the end of this article, and various other written bits of info along the way, but now I’d like to introduce the stars of this show… The wildlife…

Starting on the northern shoreline of Santa Cruz Island.


Blue-footed Booby


Lava Lizard


Sally Lightfoot Crab


Blue Heron


Whimbrel   (best guess)


Black-necked Stilt   — The image on the left is only fair quality, but I wanted to show the one-legged stance.


Marine Iguana   — Notice the seaweed elegantly draped over its forehead… such a nice touch. One of only a hundred billion or so iguanas that we saw.


Another Blue Heron


Best Guess — Lava Heron … but I don’t think the leg color is right.



The Grace , pangas readied and waiting to bring us back to the boat after our first shore adventure.

All of the preceding images were taken on just the first day on the northern shoreline of Santa Cruz island… which was really only a half day, since the first half of the day was spent traveling from Quito to the Galapagos.

For anyone considering an adventure on this boat, here is a little info about the cabins and other areas. The fanciest staterooms are on the top deck, I think there are just two on that deck. We never saw them in person, but based on how nice our somewhat less fancy stateroom was, I am sure they are fantastic. After all, one of them was Princess Grace’s honeymoon suite. Our room was on the lowest deck. It was cabin C2, and I am pretty sure it was the nicest and most spacious room on that level… and from my many steamship experiences I will say it is very luxurious and spacious. We didn’t have big windows like the suites on the top deck, just port holes. But that was fine with us. When we weren’t sleeping or changing cloths, we spent pretty much all our waking time in the indoor and outdoor lounges on the upper decks.

Another note about the images in this article. All of them were taken with a Panasonic DMC-ZS60 which comes with a Leica lens ( more info about this camera here ). I have two Nikons and several lenses, but for its size this camera is hard to beat. The entire things fits in my t-shirt pocket. It has 30:1 zoom. I’m sure the folks with the DSLRs and humongous lenses got some excellent photos, but, if I do say so myself, I think I got some pretty good images with my dinky little camera. To be completely honest about this camera, it does have one downside. It has five bazillion features…   way   to many. I have many times gotten myself into a completely untenable mode. The saving grace is that it has a feature that will restore the default settings.

Moving on to Genovesa Island…

Genovesa Island is also know as bird island… Well, duh!!!! If there was just one more bird on this island, I’m sure it would sink into the ocean. The birds are so habituated to humans that they don’t bat an eye. They seem to think of us as just another island inhabitant.


Nazca Boobies   tending to their rather spartan nest.


Female Frigatebird   on her nest

Male Frigatebird , “Hey Baby, check this out. Pretty sexy, huh. Wanna make some babies?”


Red-footed Booby


Oh yeah… here are some red feet to go with that   Booby   image above… Different bird, but you get the idea.

And now, a little anthropomorphism…


“Me hungry… Feed me!”   — The focus is a little off, but the image is too cute to pass up.


“I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine.”




Mmmmm… Oh… Sooo good…


Oh… this rock is soooo comfy…


Mama, that big creature is so close… Make it go away…


Do you mind??? She is not dressed…


We found this   extremely rare variety of Hammerhead Shark   had taken over our bed.

After a long day of very interesting and exciting adventures, I struck up a conversation with this fellow who says he is applying for a a job as a naturalist/guide on the next Quasar tour.

Okay… now I’ve lost track of which day it is… Oh well… Onward…

The next day was actually quite interesting, but after bird island, the photo opportunities may seem kinda sparse. Anyway… Here are a few…


Galapagos Hawk


Galapagos Finch   — There are many variations, so I am not sure exactly which one this is.




Prickly Pear Cactus   ( maybe?? )

Prickly Pear Cactus


I’m not 100% sure, but after looking at several images online, I think this might be a   Galapagos Black Widow !!!


On the way back to the boat,   this fellow   jumped up on the trail marker to point us the correct direction.


After an exciting day of exploration, I decided to join my new friend, Iguana IPA, to watch the   sunset .

One thing I forgot to mention earlier… We completely abandoned taking any underwater photos. Our underwater camera was untenably complicated, and about the size of a sugar cube. But if you decide to go on this amazing adventure, be sure to bring along a decent underwater camera. Several of our fellow adventurers had perfectly good underwater cameras that looked more or less like my pocket size Panasonic. The underwater scenes are every bit as spectacular as the above water scenes.


One of our naturalist guides, Roberto, our panga driver, and Ellen

On day 10 we went out for an exploratory panga ride. To be perfectly honest, it started out kinda hum-drum. After a while Roberto told the panga driver to take us back to the Grace. On the way back, off in the distance, Roberto noticed something. He told the panga driver to turn the panga around. Shortly after getting it turned around we could see there was a pod of large creatures coming our way… and fast. I think they might have been Orcas or something similar, but they didn’t look exactly the the Orcas we have in the Northwest. Anyway, Roberto told the panga driver to “punch it” (or something similar in Spanish). We were absolutely flying along, and these large creatures caught up, surrounded us for a while, and then gradually left us in the dust… well, I guess it was actually sea-spray. It was truly amazing, and a wild ride. The following are some of the photos I managed to capture. Most of them are kinda blurry cuz, well like I said, it was wild and fast moving. But I am showing you what I managed to get, cuz it was absolutely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.


Just coming up behind us.



Now they are all around us, including right next to us.



Now they are starting to pull away from us.


As I said, it didn’t take long for them to leave us in the sea-spray.


A very cute sealion pup and its mother…

We came across this very cute sealion pup and its mother… actually, they were either either sealions or fur seals, I’m not sure which. Roberto said the pup could be only a day old or so.


At one point a large bird was approaching and momma moved away from the pup to shoo the bird away. The pup started freaking out when momma wasn’t right by its side. So momma hustled right back to comfort it.




Great Blue Heron — This bird managed to snag two iguanas. This iguana put up a good fight for quite a while, but eventually, down the gullet it went.


The iguanas came in small, medium, and large…



And there were really a lot of iguanas… In fact, staying on the designated trail required carefully stepping through a vast mine-field of iguanas.

Near the end of this amazing adventure we went through this wonderful mangrove swamp where we saw many amazing and beautiful creatures.






Carlos, one of our naturalist/guides, and one of our panga drivers.

Well, that kinda wraps it up. I tried to take a group photo of the entire crew on our last night, but my camera was being uncooperative. I do want to reiterate how much we appreciate the fabulous service provided to us by all the crew. the guides, and the captain.


Many thanks to Roberto and Carlos, our excellent naturalist guides.


jrBlog - desc
pat wilson
Professor Guide
1  pat wilson    one week ago

What an awesome adventure ! Thanks for sharing.

Professor Principal
1.1  devangelical  replied to  pat wilson @1    one week ago

enjoyed all the pictures...

Professor Principal
2  Ender    one week ago

Sounds and looks fantastic. I am glad you all got to go and have the experience.

Greg Jones
Professor Guide
3  Greg Jones    one week ago

Thanks for the fabulous tour!

Professor Guide
4  Sunshine    one week ago

Wow, looks amazing.  I am excited about going to Costa Rica in December, but this looks way cooler.  How long where you on the boat?

Next trip definitely!

Professor Principal
4.1  Ender  replied to  Sunshine @4    one week ago

Would love to go to Costa Rica. I haven't been down past Mexico.

Professor Guide
4.1.1  Sunshine  replied to  Ender @4.1    one week ago

Will be my first trip there.  

Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
4.1.2  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Sunshine @4.1.1    one week ago

Ditto... would love to go to Costa Rica! Maybe next year. I just came back from Italy.

Professor Principal
4.1.3  Ender  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @4.1.2    one week ago

What? I am getting jealous. Everyone taking trips and I am stuck at home.  Haha

Hope you had a great time.

pat wilson
Professor Guide
4.1.4  pat wilson  replied to  Sunshine @4.1.1    one week ago

You'll love it. Which side will you be, Pacific or Caribbean ?

Professor Guide
4.1.5  Sunshine  replied to  pat wilson @4.1.4    one week ago

Pacific.  Staying in the Guanacaste area. 

Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
4.1.6  Trout Giggles  replied to  Ender @4.1.3    one week ago

Book yourself a cruise! You've earned it

Professor Principal
4.1.7  devangelical  replied to  Trout Giggles @4.1.6    6 days ago

I think I gained 20 pounds the last cruise I went on. me and access to unlimited food 24/7 is a really bad mix. damn that soft serve machine at poolside and that 10pm-4am pizza parlor.

Professor Participates
4.2  author  MalamuteMan  replied to  Sunshine @4    one week ago

We were on the boat for 8 days. Never a dull moment. Typical schedule was, breakfast at 7am, panga ride to whichever island was nearest at 7:45, 10 or 10:30 back on boat, quick snack, then snorkeling for an hour or so, back to the boat for lunch, then panga ride or another walk on an island. Then cocktails or whatever before dinner, then dinner, etc.

We also spent a couple days in Quito, and visited various towns and wilderness areas around Quito.

Professor Principal
4.2.1  Ender  replied to  MalamuteMan @4.2    one week ago

They kept you busy. I like the fact that not very many people on the boat. Not 500 people crammed around like a cruise ship.

Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
5  Perrie Halpern R.A.    one week ago

Amazing trip and amazing photos. I really enjoyed reading about your experience. Makes me want to take the trip!

Professor Participates
5.1  author  MalamuteMan  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @5    one week ago

Actually, Costa Rica is on our bucket list too... along with Vietnam, Cambodia, and the French canals.

Glad you enjoyed the article, Perrie... :o)

Just Jim NC TttH
Masters Principal
6  Just Jim NC TttH    one week ago

Simply AWESOME. Thanks for sharing

Professor Principal
7  Ender    one week ago

Now you had me looking at the islands. Just saw this. Didn't remember it. Sad.

Early on Sunday morning, June 24, 2012, Lonesome George, the sole remaining Pinta Island tortoise and Galapagos conservation icon, was found dead in his corral at the Tortoise Breeding and Rearing Center in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island. Fausto Llerena, a Galapagos National Park ranger who was on the expedition that discovered George and who was his long-term caretaker, found George stretched out in the direction of his watering hole with no signs of life.


Professor Participates
7.1  author  MalamuteMan  replied to  Ender @7    one week ago

George had a pretty long life... and on the upside, I just read that they found anther one of his particular species way in the back-country of one of the islands.

Although that particular sub-species is very threatened (possibly beyond recovery), there are still lots of tortoises on the islands. While it is vastly less than it was before western explorers found the islands, they are protected now, and slowly recovering. One thing they are doing to accelerate the recovery is to create rearing sanctuaries for the really young ones which have a very low survival rate in the wild. Once they get them up to about 5 years or so they are much less vulnerable, so then they turn them loose in the wild.


Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
7.1.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  MalamuteMan @7.1    6 days ago

For me, a tour of the Galapagos was a dream that never came to fruition so I would have liked to have seen your photos, but alas, the only one that opened for me is the one on this comment to which I have replied.  I don't know if you used a different method to post this one than the others that are above, or there could be some other reason that I've been blocked. 

Professor Participates
7.1.2  author  MalamuteMan  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @7.1.1    6 days ago

I'd check with Perrie...

Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
7.1.3  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  MalamuteMan @7.1.2    6 days ago

Thank you, but I think you are the only person who could possibly know if there were something different with the photo on the comment and those on the article, as well as how you posted them.

Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
7.1.4  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  MalamuteMan @7.1.2    6 days ago

On trying to open some of the photos of the article I noted that a site called "" was used by you, and I'm unable to open any photos on that site. 

Professor Participates
7.1.5  author  MalamuteMan  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @7.1.4    6 days ago

I originally posted this article on Medium... although I don't know anything about "miro". I mostly did just a copy and past from that site.

It is difficult to understand why only you are having difficulty seeing it, and not the several other people who have looked at this on NT.

Where are you located?

Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
7.1.6  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  MalamuteMan @7.1.5    5 days ago

Okay, now I understand.  Apparently Medium is blocked in China (I live in Chongqing) and I suppose you did a direct copy from your computer picture library to post the photo on your comment, that opened normally. 

Professor Participates
8  Freefaller    one week ago

Great story and photos, thanks for sharing.  Oh yeah I'm also totally jealous

Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
9  Trout Giggles    one week ago

I love that boat! Amazing photos, Mal. Thanks for sharing

PhD Guide
10  Dig    one week ago

Wow! Amazing trip, spectacular photos.

What an awesome experience that must have been.

Professor Principal
11  Kavika     6 days ago

What a trip! The photos were outstanding and the bit about the turtles and how they are working to save the species was very interesting. 

I wasn't aware that there were Flamingoes in the Islands. Could it be an escapee from Florida?

Thanks for the tour.