Thursday, 1 July 2010

The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, March 2010

Reclining Sea Line

The Galapagos, where the birds walk on water. The tiny Elliot's Storm Petrel was our intro to the islands.

Arriving in the Galapagos was a relief. That’s probably an understatement; it was tremendously exciting. As we approached San Cristobal, we saw a small waterfall tumbling into the sea, lava coastlines, sea turtles, a shark, birds walking on water and sea lions.

Inspiration Lady, San Cristobal

The population of the Galapagos islands is over 30,000. In 2008, 180,000 tourists, including Ecuadorian residents, visited the islands. I can’t tell you the sea lion count except to say they appear everywhere. You might even find one on your stern or peering inside your hatch, as Jacqui and David did on Jackster.

Anthem and Jackster, San Cristobal

Sally Lightfoot crab.

Jack, Anthem, enjoys his ice cream. Thanks to Jackie and Gary, Inspiration Lady, (first across the line) we all enjoyed ice cream.

Owen, Elliot and Robert rented bicycles to explore the beaches.

We took a bus up to the El Junco national park. To get to the top of the crater you take a steep walkway. Then you can look down into the fresh water crater lake. Frigate birds come to the lake to wash salt off their wings. The mountain is shrouded in clouds so the vegetation is lush and the air is dripping wet.

Elliot and Owen inside a moss and fern lined “Hobbit Hole” at El Junco, San Cristobal. Exposed tree roots help to form the walls and roof. The earth was washed away when the lake overflowed and formed a river down the side of the mountain.

We visited the Cerro Colorado visitor center on San Cristobal where they have a captive tortise breeding program.

From tiny babies to giants

We also visited the Charles Darwin Research Center on Santa Cruz, home of Lonesome George, the last of his particular species of tortise.

Luxury Galapagos cruiser, M/S The Alta ran aground in Puerto Ayora,
Galapagos on March 17, 2010.

We didn’t expect to be able to do a lot of provisioning in the Galapagos but we found the small super mercados to be quite well stocked. The farmers’ market in San Cristobal was an unexpected bonus. We found watermelon, oranges, papaya, bananas, canteloupe, peppers, cucumber, potatoes, onions, mandarins, tomatoes, coriander, passionfruit, pumpkin, beans, and tamarillos and got change back out of $20.

Kicker Rock, from our lunch time anchorage on a snorkel trip.

Look out for Elliot's underwater postings from locations along the way.

For the story of the grounding of The Alta,

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