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Published: February 27th 2014
So on Friday morning, I checked out of my hotel and headed from the old, historic part of town, to the new town and to the hotel where I would meet my group for the Galápagos tour. When I arrived, my room mate was out so I decided to take a trip up the cable car which overlooks Quito from a height of over 4000m. Unfortunately, that afternoon was rather cloudy so my view was much better on the cable car ride up and down than at the top but I got myself a hot chocolate and was happy!
In the evening, we had our welcome meeting for the tour, where I met everyone I would be stuck with for the next ten days and got some basic information about our trip. Afterwards, my room mate (Bec) and I went out for dinner and had some lovely Ecuadorean food.
The next day was when we would fly to the Galápagos Islands. We piled in a minibus first thing in the morning and went to Quito airport where all of our luggage was inspected before we were allowed to board the flight. After about two and a half
hours flying, we arrived on the island of San Christobel. We were met at the airport by our expert naturalist guide, Mauricio and after dropping our bags off at the hotel, walked to the Galápagos Interpretation Centre (a kind of museum telling you about the history of the Galápagos). On the way, we passed loads of sea lions who were sleeping on rocks or under benches, anywhere where some shade might be available.
After the interpretation centre, we walked round to a small inlet where we went swimming and snorkelling and saw more sea lions and birds.
In the evening, we went for some great BBQ food, but couldn't have a nice cold beer with it as it was the Ecuadorean local elections the next day and they are not allowed to seek alcohol before the election. Even to foreigners!
The next morning, we got up early for a boat trip to Kicker Rock (a very small island off San Christobel). We looked at the various birds which nest on the island and then went snorkelling. While snorkelling, we swam over three different types of shark and with a sea lion. We also saw coral,
sea anemones and lots of fish. There were also a load of little jellyfish which kept stinging us. While not dangerous, it was not exactly nice. We had lunch back on the boat- fish, rice and salad and were dropped off at a white sand beach. We spent an hour there (under the shade as I really didn't want to burn) and then returned to San Christobel and our hotel.
On Monday, we moved on to Santa Cruz Island. We caught an early speedboat taxi (having gone through another inspection) and arrived mid morning. We stopped at a supermarket for water supplies and at a warehouse for some beers as they were finally open for business again and went up to the highlands, to the farm where we would be camping the night. After dropping out bags off at the tents, we got in a crazy bus with no real sides it doors to speak of and went to visit another farm down the road where giant tortoises were known to roam free. We first walked down a lava tunnel which had been formed where magma had solidified.
When we got to the farm proper, we
spotted some huge tortoises, some of which were nearly as big as me. We walked around and found around 100 tortoises walking about the farm, of all different sizes and wallowing around in pools or vegetation. They were really cool animals and our guide explained how they had been saved from extinction by human intervention and breeding programmes.
The camping overnight was pretty noisy as there were crickets and roosters around. It was nice to be under canvas though.
The following morning, we packed up our stuff and visited the Charles Darwin Research Centre, where we saw the baby turtles. They keep the turtles until they are a few years old as their shells are too fragile to fight off wild predators before that age. There were also some land iguanas, which are much more colourful than their marine counterparts, they're red and yellow and much more endangered. The marine ones are everywhere!
Once we were finished there, we had some lunch in town and boarded the speedboat for the island of Isabella, another couple of hours away. We arrived at the hotel mid afternoon and then went off in search of flamingos, which we
found in a lagoon at the end of the road. There were about 20 of them, which was a surprise as there are only about 350 left in the Galápagos. In the evening, we went down to the beach and had a few drinks in the bar with the group.
Isabela is the only island we visited that still has active volcanoes and the following morning we walked up the Sierra negro volcano and saw the crater. It seemed much more fertile than those I have seen at Vesuvius and Etna, despite having last erupted 8 years ago. We hiked around the top of the crater, discovering some of the birds and lizards who make it their home. We also went to another giant tortoise breeding centre, where there were several different species and we saw them being fed their brunch. In the afternoon, we went snorkelling in a natural swimming pool which although part of the sea, was extremely flat and saw lots of fish and ended up swimming with a tiny Galápagos penguin. We then had a beer on the beach before dinner and an early night.
This morning, we had to
be up before 5am for our boat back to Santa Cruz. Once here, we checked into our hotel and had breakfast before a 4km walk to Tortuga (Tortoise) bay. It was a beautiful white sand beach and we have spent most of the day relaxing and swimming. I'm just about to have a shower and get ready for dinner.
Tomorrow I'll be back to the mainland and on Saturday I head down to Lima to continue the adventure.
Apologies for any spelling errors but the display on my phone isn't working well enough to let me check through this!
Hope all is well at home
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