Galápagos -July 9 – 23, 2017

Question: Where can you:

  1. See a bus stop driving to let the iguana cross the road?
  2. Stub your toe on a submerged lava rock?
  3. Swim with a sea lion?
  4. Watch Ruddy Turnstones scamper on a deserted white sand beach?
  5. Scatter 100’s of 4″ marine iguanas juveniles while looking at 4 white-tipped sharks resting in a crevasse? 
  6. Pass 6-8 giant tortoises lounging in their mud hole while taking a morning walk?
  7. Descend into an ancient lava tube?
  8. Have shrimp ceviche every day for lunch?
  9. Drive on a straight road through 20 miles of cactus-strewned fields?
  10. Take a ferry to get to the airport?
  11. Watch a tortoise eat his daily greens?
  12. Spy a 3′ iguana wear its algae dinner?
  13. Have a large Pilsener beer while watching the sunset?
  14. Watch a sea lion go after a puffer fish, fish expands and gets away?
  15. Be startled by a streaking only-warm-water penguin?
  16. Study the finches that were the impetus for the evolution theory?
  17. Watch a dozen eagle rays float under your boat?
  18. Spy a sea lion hassle a resting penguin just to be annoying?

Answer: Galápagos. 

On Sunday, July 9th, We flew to Baltra Island, Galapagos which hosts one of the two airports from mainland Ecuador. After a bus ride, a ferry and a 45 minute taxi ride, we were delivered to our hotel in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. 

We ended up on three different islands: 

Santa Cruz – touristy

Then (flight to Isabela on a 8-seater puddle hopper),

Isabela – non-touristy 

(second internal flight to San Cristóbal on a 8-seater plane),

And

San Cristóbal – in between tourism. 

Santa Cruz outings:

We hired a taxi to take us to El Chato (giant tortoise rehab. center), Cerro Crocker and Playa El Garrapatero on different days. We wandered through the Charles Darwin Research Center – which is a working scientific center. Most of our time was spent wandering around the town, piers, fish market and docks watching people and sea lions. 

Isabela outings:

I took a snorkeling/walking tour through the Tintoreiras (volcanic rock lava flows forming a series of reefs off Puerto Villamil). We, on separate days, walked out to Centro de crianza “Arnoldo Tupiza Chamaidan” (another giant tortoise rehab. and breeding center), Flamingo Sanctuary, El Estero (mangrove reserve) and Túnel del Estero (lava tubes). Puerto Villamil is so small the Main Street is sand. Another day I went snorkeling in Concha Perla after walking on a short boardwalk through the mangroves. 

San Cristóbal outings:

In Puerto Baquerizo Moreno we walked up to the Charles Darwin Interpretation Center which is laid out in three areas to explain the Galapagos: 

#1. Geological and evolutionary aspects, 

#2. Human history and habitation, and 

#3. How the Islands will maintain their diversity and steps to protect going forward. 

Then we climbed up to Cerro Tijeretas (so named for the Frigate birds with their scissor-like tails) for a 270 degree view of the southwestern section of Island. 

I took a boat snorkeling trip first to a sheltered beach cove and then out to León Dormido “Kicker Rock” – a rock formation off the Coast. This took some doing. Water was deep, cold and murky. Tidal surge and waves were strong especially when we swam through two crevasses in the rock formation.

During the times I went snorkeling, Dave, of course, is wandering and photographing. 

I’m glad we did a land-based stay instead of a cruise around the Islands. Cruises are expensive (approx. $7000 – $8,000 for two) and generally only a week long. Our two weeks cost half that. 

The Galapagos have been on our Bucket List for some time. They were not what I expected. I’m not sure why. The Islands, generally, are not scenic (if you don’t take into consideration the shorelines). There are animals galore. In fact so many, one becomes blasé about having to walk around another iguana or sea lion sprawled across boardwalk or dock. 

We probably will not make a return trip to the Galapagos. 

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Galápagos Photos

A selection of images from each of the three islands we visited:

A selection of images sorted by animal:

 

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