June 16 to 23, 2010
We continue our 6-part Ecuadorean photo spread with our visit to the Galapagos Islands – specifically, the island of Santa Cruz. The biggest surprise upon our arrival was seeing how populated and developed the island was. The main town of Puerto Ayora was full of hotels, restaurants and tour companies, while the harbour was filled with water taxis, fishing boats and yachts of every size. Who knew?!
(ROZ: If you’re as surprised as we were about all the development on the Galapagos, I highly recommend “Plundering Paradise – The Hand of Man on the Galapagos Islands” by Michael D’Orso. It’s a sad, but fascinating, read about the history of man’s presence on the islands.)
After settling in at Casa Judy, our rented self-contained apartment for the week, we went for a lovely walk to Tortuga Bay. The beach had piles of black marine iguanas hanging out on black volcanic rocks (great camouflage!) and Darwin’s famous little finches, which hung out on us. I think they liked our bread crumbs.
One day we took a boat tour around the bay where we spotted our first sea lions near a little island. Then we went ashore at a nearby cove and walked to a beach were we marvelled at even more black marine iguanas. Our final stop on the tour was at Las Grietas, where we went snorkelling in a deep canyon gorge that had both freshwater and seawater in it – nice!
But we didn’t have to leave Puerto Ayora to see wildlife. Every time we walked by the fisherman’s wharf there were always sea lions, pelicans and herons hanging out, hoping for a free meal.
Feeling the need for some exercise, we went for a 5 km walk to the town of Bellavista to check out some lava tunnels. These things had been created long ago by volcanic flows that eventually cooled and left tunnels behind. We checked out two different tunnels – a free one by the side of the road that was about 100 meters long and another one located on private property that was almost a kilometer long. Very neat and unlike anything I’d ever seen. The property with the huge tunnel also had old turtle shells you could crawl into for a photo. I know, pretty sick, but how often do you get the chance to wear a turtle shell?
Our last excursion on Santa Cruz was to the Charles Darwin Research Station. Not only did they have giant tortoises (including the famous 90-year-old, last-of-his-kind, Lonesome George), they also had rare, golden land iguanas and a turtle breeding station. We finished the day with a refreshing swim in a nearby cove – sweet.
Next stop: The Galapagos Island of San Cristobal where we swam with sea lions!
END OF PART 25