Tortoises and Tee Shirts

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South America » Ecuador » Galápagos » Isabela Island
November 14th 2019
Published: November 18th 2019
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Another rough night, and awoke to mild panic and a less than gentle chiding that I had forgotten to set the alarm....only 30 mins to get ready for breakfast and prepare for another busy day of activity.. We had moored in Elizabeth Bay on the west coast of Isabela..the largest island of the Galapagos. Our Panga took us on a gentle trip around the mangrove inlets, where we saw turtles, and many fish in the shallow water, many more birds, including Pelicans, penguins and the rare flightless cormorant. On return to the boat we were given the opportunity to jump in and swim or snorkel round the boat. The water was a little colder than before, despite being almost on the equator, due to us being now exposed to the cooler Cromwell Current coming from the west. No sea life was seen. We set sail then, northward to Urbina bay, at the base of Alcedo Volcano, where, following lunch, we had the chance to snorkel around rocks and a steep beach. By this time I had found the video feature on my underwater camera and filmed giant turtles, Rays, and shoals of highly coloured fish. This was followed by a hike around and behind this raised beach. This beach and hinterland had risen 10 metres above sea level due to a seismic uplift and seashells and bits of coral could be seen far inland, some embedded in the lava rock which was everywhere on these islands. We saw Giant Tortoises and their nests in the sand, large Land Iguanas, many finches, mockingbirds, and other bird species. We finally got our chance to have our photos taken in our Castle Hotel Tee shirts, beside a Giant Tortoise waiting patiently at the side of the track. Surely the most iconic feature of these islands, along with the impressive land iguana? Worth a free pint for the international publicity, at least, John? The tortoise has set off for Portmahomack already.....should make it by his 200th birthday! Started sailing further north for a few hours to reach the shelter of Tagus bay, where we would spend the night. Moored. No noisy engines or wild pitching and rolling. 'To sleep, perchance to dream' to quote some obscure English poet. Still, better have a glass or two of wine just to make sure. Slightly disappointed that couldn't get a decent swatch of the equatorial night sky due to full moon and navigation lights on upper deck. Managed to identify Cassiopia and Pleides, but little else. The captain reckoned it should be possible to see both Polaris in North, and Southern Cross in south (where else!), and therefore also my favourite Southern Hemisphere nebula, the Greater Magellan Cloud. But due to said lunar nuisance, and high horizon of Isabela, nae luck! Still, more than compensated by plethora of unique and incredible wildlife seen today. Onwards and upwards!

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