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Published: November 18th 2019
Not too good a nights sleep due to a lot of pitching and rolling, but found ourselves in a delightful bay on south east coast of Isabela Island. Panga ride to a decent jetty at the little town of Puerto Villamil where dozens of marine Iguanas and sea lions lay around in the sun, in the middle of the road, on the beach, jetty, and even commandeered the benches! Went for 7Km hike up to rim of massive crater of Sierra Negra Volcano, withe largest basaltic caldera in the Galapagos, thankfully inactive. Currently. Returned to boat again for decent lunch of ceviche (prawn, fish, and octopus), before returning to shore to visit a breeding sanctuary for Galapagos giant tortoises. I hadn't known that Galapagos means 'Giant Tortoise', from which the archipelago got its name. If not for this breeding programme, we would not have any of these magnificent creatures left now. Introduced species, especially the rat, ensure that none of the vulnerable hatchlings survive in the wild. The programme here protects them until they are several years old, and able to survive, before being released into the wild. There are only 4 breeding pairs here, but they are producing hundreds of
eggs which are being very carefully looked after! It is a slow process though, starting with a mating process that takes between 6-10 hours to complete! It's little wonder that they walk so slowly. We had a couple of hours free in the tiny town, and saw Flamingos, herons, and several species of waders in the wetlands just outwith the town. It's a neat little beachside town with wildlife living very closely, and comfortably, with the local fishing population, and now tourists. Although the government very closely controls visitor numbers here, there was new house construction going on all around, and an array of clearly new road paving, shops and restaurants in the centre of an otherwise very cute, dirt road, beachside shack, melange. It would be very sad to see the Galapagos' first Macdonalds appear here !
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