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On our last morning in Puerto Ayora, not wanting to trawl the souvenir shops again, I made a second visit to Tortuga Bay and the lagoon. The sky, sea and sand created a brilliant strata of colours, pale yellow, blues, turquoises and white in the bright sunshine. A whimbrel, pelican and larva gulls obliged by posing for close-up shots. Sally lightfoot crabs scuttled across the black larva rocks. I walked the curve of the bay to the area of the lagoon. Unlike my previous visit the tide was low, the sea was not as blue and there were small piles of pale brown and red seaweeds along the shoreline –not quite so appealing. I paddled around looking for life underwater but in vain. Disappointingly the blue-footed booby was elsewhere.
Sights on my return journey however lifted my spirits – marine iguanas striding out across the wet sand, front leg and diagonally opposite hind leg forward, then the other front and hind leg, head held aloft, dragging their long tail behind them (they leave a very obvious trail); marine iguanas entering the water from a rocky ledge and swimming half-submerged across a large shallow pool to the shore; a lone iguana entering the sea from the sand and surfing the waves.
There were several small fish of various species, some striped and others black with yellow fins, and pencil-spined sea urchins in the pool. At last I was able to use the plastic underwater camera I had brought with me, although I can’t believe that it takes real pictures! (I’ll have to wait to find out because there is still a lot more film to shoot – perhaps in the colder waters of west Wales). Read the rest of this entry »
Eventually got the underwater footage to upload. Glad that I managed that as we don’t have wireless on Isabella. Things will be published from here upon our return to the UK.
Last morning on Santa Cruz a little sad. We were just getting used to the layout of the town, the pace of life, the people in the shops and restaurants, the marine iguanas, the special Tortuga bay, the wonderful breakfasts of chocolate Scotch pancakes and cheese, followed by fruit, with wonderful Ecuadorian coffee and fresh juices – sounds weird, but do try it if you get the chance.
Spent the morning buying a few last minute presents – very few shops on Isabella, and walking around the town. In particular went to the CDRS again as well as the fish market where we saw a bill fish – it looked totally out of this world, almost cartoon like. Just 100 yards down the road I came across a poster urging fishermen to throw bill fish back if they caught one. I do eat fish (mainly when eating out) but don’t think I could eat a bill fish steak, not having seen this magnificent beast.
We checked out of the hotel and I managed to spend 20 minutes on a sun lounger by the pool listening to the Doves. So year 11 – that was my holiday bit of the trip – you can’t begrudge me 20 minutes!
Then it was lunch and down to the harbour. Our cases were checked to make sure that we weren’t smuggling wildlife or moving fruits, or anything else with seeds etc that could contain invasive species. Then we were packed onto a speedboat and set off for Isabella. A bumpy ride, but saw 4 dolphins as we were pulling out of Puerto Ayora harbour – a fitting send off from Santa Cruz.
Arrived at the lovely natural harbour on Isabella. We were wondering as we went through passport control what the policeman was doing bouncing a ball when there was a dog tied up getting really excited about it. It was a sniffer dog – trained to look (not the correct verb – sniff, smell?) for smuggled wildlife etc. Anyway, we had nothing to hide.
Short drive to our hotel. Right on the beach, I can hear the waves crashing as I am writing this. Palm trees with hammocks – a wonderful setting.
Our guide, Julio, took us on a quick tour of the town (village really) – a square with restaurants and thats about it. Finished with the soda lake with flamingos – absolutely beautiful.
Trekking up to the 2nd largest caldera in the world tomorrow. Sturdy shoes, 1.5 litres of water, sunblock, sunglasses, long sleeves needed. Apparently it should reach 35 degrees C when we reach the summit. The view should be amazing…
Just a very quick post before we head off to Isabela this afternoon. No need for me to repeat what the others have said about yesterday, as I think it is fairly obvious it was a day we will all remember for a long time! Nick’s video is great, and shows just how close the sealions and turtles came, and how unfazed they were by us, and our strange appearance and gadgets!
When we next have some internet access (which might be back in the UK according to reports about Isabela’s connectivity) I will upload photos and my videos from underwater. I think it was an amazing ‘high’ to leave Santa Cruz on, and we are looking forward to what Isabela has in store! hopefully we can continue to blog from there, but if not, there will certainly be more to follow on our return to the UK.
And I think I could definately join a sealion’s harem – lazing in the sun with the occasional banter with the odd (in every sense of the word!) swimmer sounds right up my street!
I think it’s fair to say that yesterday was one of the highlights of my life. At least.
After travelling for two hours by speedboat, we reached San Cristobal island. After a talk on the importance of conservation in the Galapagos and an informative wander round an exhibit detailing parts of the islands history (I found out that the Galapagos islands were the place they sent convicts from America at the early turn of the century) and environmental statistics, we what can only be described as ‘trekked’ up a mount in the midday heat but it was worth it when we reached the top.
We saw the huge statue of Charles Darwin, surrounded by a tortoise and a sea lion. I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t made out of tone but out of some hollow material but I understood when realising the amount of steps and the incline we had walked up.
If I couldn’t sit on a real giant tortoise, I made sure I sat on a model one!
On the way to lunch we walked past the harbour. It was brilliant watching the sea lions in their natural habitat, lazing on the beach in the sun. However, all of the recent talks about human impact on the Galapagos hit home when, on one side sea lions were lying on a golden beach and splashng in the birght bue ocean, but on the other side they were sunbathing next to rubble and concrete blocks used to make the next building encroaching on the habitat.
After lunch we walked to a beach called ‘Sea Lion Refuge’. Now, sea lions are one of my favourite animals so I thought it was amazing to be able to see them in the water and on beaches.
It was extradordinary to be able to sit less than two metres away from them and copy their lazy, sun worshipping ways! There were about forty, fifty, possibly sixty sea lions all huddled together with at least three babies. Looking to the future, I was quite pleased to see quite a few babies because it means that, hopefully, the population is far from declining. Hearing the barks of them playing in the sea, the baby suckling and the slaps of running flippers, I was actually speechless.
Now, time to pack for Isabella….
We’ve had a busy couple of days!
On Wednesday we visited a local school and joined in with some of their lessons. It was very interesting to see how their school life seemed a lot more relaxed than ours. We met some amazing people! In the afternoon some of the students took us to a tortoise reserve they were involved in, where people from the Charles Darwin Research Station told us about what they’re doing to monitor the islands.
On Thursday we visited the recycling centre where we leant a hand. We took tops off bottles, put paper in bags (which required getting into the wheelie bin) and worked on the conveyer belt sorting out the different recyclables. The people working there were very funny especially when some odd items came along. In the afternoon we went to Tortuga Bay which was a 2km walk but it was worth it. The waves were huge! There was over a hundred iguanas all crammed in to one place. There was also a blue footed booby about a metre away from us.
On Friday we went to the Charles Darwin Research Centre and learnt some interesting things about how humans impacting the islands by introducing new species and how the population has dramatically increased over the past 20 years. We also met Lonesome George the last surviving tortoise from the island of Pinta. He seemed happy considering.
Today we went to San Cristobal and visited the interpretation centre and went along a new trail to a statue of Charles Darwin at his first landing site on the islands. We all had our photo taken with him. After lunch we snorkelling and sea lions were swimming right up to our faces and doing flips in front of us. I was a bit scared at first but got used to their playful nature. A sea turtle swam right past me and underneath me. It was an incredible afternoon. On the boat back some dolphins passed by the boat.
Off the Isabela tomorrow.
Thanks to everybody who has helped us on Santa Cruz!!! People who have given us interesting talks, been our tour guides (Franklin and Javier), the staff at the hotel Villa laguna and the many drivers of cars and captains of boats.
What a day, landing on the Islands was an emotional experience. I think lots of us had a lump in our throats as it finally sank in that we were really here. I almost felt like kissing the ground when we landed! The islands looked beautiful from the plane, jutting out from the turquoise sea. Whilst waiting to get into the arrivals shed / lounge we saw our first finch and lizards. On the bus to the ferry we saw frigate birds patrolling overhead. The fauna is so impressive. Read the rest of this entry »
Well we are finally on the last leg of the trip to the Galapagos. Have just taken off from Guayaquil. We land on the tiny island of Baltra and then catch a ferry across to Santa Cruz. Then it is up to the mountains to a tortoise sanctuary, and the adventure properly begins.