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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.

 

landing on Baltra

landing on Baltra

 

It was lovely to feel some warmth after the relative cold of Quito.  Anyway back to the wildlife.  On arriving on Santa Cruz our bus took us up into the mountains.  There was a rapid change in the flora as we changed altitude.  Near the top we stopped at “the twins” – a pair of caves that had collapsed to leave huge circular craters.  From here we saw more finches and flycatchers.

 

one of the twins (not Jessica or Charlotte)

one of the twins (not Jessica or Charlotte)

 

We had a lovely lunch and then explored a tortoise sanctuary.  The tortoises were so impressive in their bulk and their wonderful leathery texture.  They just ate and ate and ate, occasionally willing up the effort to move a few feet to the next patch of vegetation.

 

munch

munch

 

Our guide heard some grunting in the trees and we followed her to find a pair getting actively involved in the breeding program!  They weren’t at all phased by us filming their antics!  Will hopefully upload the footage that the girls shot soon.

 

the male has a concave underside to the shell - isn't evolution incredible!

The male has a concave underside to the shell - isn't evolution incredible!

 

After seeing dozens of tortoises we walked down a lava tube, formed when a flow of lava forms a crust on the outside which remains after the liquid core has flowed away.  It was much larger than we had imagined, approximately 400 metres in length and mainly about 5 metres in diameter, though narrower in places (pictured – with Amy T squeezing through).

 

keep up!

keep up!

 

Then on to the town of Santa Cruz and our hotel.  The town is dilapidated in places with a lot of building work going on.  Our hotel is very modern and appears not to have been open long.

Picked up some snorkelling equipment to take to Floreanna with us tomorrow.  Really looking forward to that….

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