Genovesa Island: Prince Philip’s Steps

One of my favorite types of posts to read online is when people in the service industry write about the questions they get from customers on the job. In my many pre teaching jobs I’ve worked as a receptionist at a pilates studio and at a myriad of bakeries and cafes (the look on people’s faces when they order a caramel macchiato and they get an actual caramel macchiato instead of a vanilla latte with caramel syrup AKA the Starbucks caramel macchiato). But my absolute favorite category is the Park Ranger questions, which I never understood until the Galapagos. “What time do you let the bears out?” What a ridiculous question, the bears are wild, they’re not planted, and obviously it must be the same with the rare birds in the Galapagos. But for the first time I understood why someone might ask that question when we arrived in Ecuador’s most famous National Park. The plane landed on windswept Baltra and we got to deplane onto the tarmac (which makes me feel like the President) and then took a bus across the island to the zodiacs which would take us to the ship. As we got off the bus there was an iguana lying on the side of the road, a sea lion basking on the dock and a flock of blue footed boobies diving in the bay. Many many people asked if this was a set up and I understood the question. The next morning we anchored at Genovesa Island and by the time we’d finished our nature walk I too wanted to ask…”So what time did you let the blue footed boobies out?” It was wildlife like I had never seen before…near, on, and all around the trail. I’ll tell you now if you go to the Galapagos you do not need a telephoto lens. My photos look cool, not gonna lie, but I would have had to work hard to not get good photos in this ridiculous place.

The morning adventure was a nature walk at Prince Philip’s Steps which, on the luxury cruise meter, ranked as strenuous. It was….wait for it….36 STEPS!!!!! Barely made it. But here’s the really hard part….choosing photos. So I apologize for how many there are.

Galapagos Flycatcher. I will say much debate was had over whether this is a Galapagos Flycatcher or a Red-Eyed Vireo, but the lack of red eyes, among other things, led us to the flycatcher conclusion.

A juvenile booby practicing flight, unsuccessfully.

Don’t worry if you’re not great at spotting wildlife, the Galapagos has lots of helpful signs for you.

Fun fact: baby boobies look prehistoric.

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Frigatebirds, although I’m not sure if they’re Magnificient or Great. They have very distinctive shapes when flying and the top ones seem to be practicing characteristic frigatebird behavior with a stick…stealing prey from other birds.

The one..the only….blue footed booby!

This is possibly my favorite picture, look at this silly booby! It looks like those little dinosaurs in Jurassic Park.

Just to demonstrate how many birds there were.

I believe this is a juvenile frigatebird, also practicing carrying sticks.

A male frigatebird sitting on his nest. Although you can’t see his back well the feathers have a purple sheen which leads me to say that this is a Magnificent Frigatebird.

A short-eared owl! The diurnal and adorable owl of the Galapagos.

I know the blue footed boobies get a lot of attention but I think I actually prefer the red footed boobies. Check out how cool their beaks are, and they scratch their faces like dogs do which I think is hilarious.

Unlike the blue footed boobies, the red footed boobies nest in trees.

Here’s the zodiac along the cliffs that the Prince Philip Steps are cut into.

And here they are…the dreaded steps…we barely made it.

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