Santa Cruz


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Published: June 21st 2016
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Arrived late afternoon to our final stop of the Galapagos; Santa Cruz...most folks start here, a lot of the cruises leave from this most populous island of the archipelago and it certainly has the most infrastructure of the islands we saw...a few things planned but with only two full days here and it being the end of the line we certainly wanted to squeeze in a little more relaxin'...

Having already stopped here in transit to Isabela we had a bit of the lay of the land which was great...on our previous stop we managed to take in the Charles Darwin Research Station which was cool, although a large portion of it was under renovations so the museum was closed and the baby tortoises had been relocated which was a drag...a couple of pens of the larger tortoises were still there however, and some land iguanas as well which was cool, but after visiting the breeding centre on Isabela it was a bit of a letdown to be honest...

Settled into our digs, wonderful spot called Morning Glory Lodge on the upper part of Charles Darwin Ave (near the Turtle Statue)...found it online to great reviews, and it certainly lived up to them; beautiful little oasis with free coffee, free laundry (!), fully stocked kitchen if you wanted to prepare your own meals and super friendly folks...run and owned by two brothers (Daniel and Marcos), who we really enjoyed stopping and chatting with (and occasionally having a pint) every time we saw them...they couldn't have been more helpful, really made us feel welcome and would point us in the right direction whenever we asked...the rooms were simple but clean, it was the courtyard with hammocks, loungers, clotheslines and beautiful landscaping that really made it though, loved coming back after a day of touring to sit and relax with a pint...Daniel is also quite the artist; the shop you have to go through to get to the Lodge is his, he does custom t-shirts which are really cool and very different from all the stuff in the other shops...

Morning we were up and our first mission was to seek out breakfast and the Ecuadorian dish called Bolon...basically a fried plantain dumpling, we came across this dish on our first visit when we popped into a cafe near the port for a cup of coffee...everyone was eating them, and
Tortoises at CDRSTortoises at CDRSTortoises at CDRS

...with their racing numbers...kidding...
for good reason: they are awesome! We ordered ours with some beef stew which provided a little gravy to dip the bolon in, and after some miscommunication a side of eggs was also brought to the table, yum...ended up back the following day closer to lunch, have to say the dish goes well with a pint as well...haha...

Decided to just do a tortoise sanctuary and lava tunnels that day as they both came highly recommended; so flagged down a taxi, settled on a price and off we went...opted for the El Chato reserve on a tip from our hosts, arrived about 45 minutes later and began to walk around this large fenced in property...the large tortoises are free to move about, it was cool seeing them in a more natural habitat but I have to admit I was getting tortoised out...we were supposed to go to the Lava Tunnels but either through more miscommunication (which was frequent as no common language was spoken most of the time) we ended up going through some tunnels on the El Chato property itself...cool nonetheless, not sure what we missed though...

Spent the rest of the day poking around town, picking
Waiting for Scraps...Waiting for Scraps...Waiting for Scraps...

...this was really entertaining...
up a couple of last minute souvenirs along the way...came across this neat little fish market, complete with Pelicans, Frigate Birds and a hungry Sea Lion all looking for scraps...catches of the day would arrive, cleaned and sold immediately, looked amazing and fun to watch the process...a couple of patio beers and dinner beside the hotel rounded out the evening...

Day two was beach day, time to make the hike to Tortuga Bay and see what all the hype was about...actually a good hike just to get across town and to the start of the trail, which was then another 2.5 kms before seeing sand and surf...a paved path, and a really cool walk...the beach itself is beautiful; white sand that goes on forever, but the rough seas were not the most inviting...fortunately at the far end there is another more tranquil beach called Playa Mansa that is sheltered and very calm, perfect for swimming and kayaking...took our snorkel gear but the bottom is basically just sand so not a lot to see...great place to kick back and relax under the mangrove trees though, recommend it...stopped in at a little lagoon called Laguna de las Ninfas on our way back, a cool little boardwalk winds you through a variety of mangrove trees...supposed to be some marine life here but didn't see any...

One must see here is the pier at night: lights from under the pier light up the waters and all sorts of creatures can be seen...we saw lots of baby sharks, some sea lions and a few other fish while some folks we were talking to saw all sorts of rays one night, it's really cool!

For dinner Marcos pointed us to an area where all the restaurants move their tables to the middle of the street and basically shut it down for dinner...it's on Binford Street, which is the same street you take to get to Tortuga Bay and it's well worth going...all local shops, all vying for your patronage, it was fun walking up and down and taking in the sights, sounds and smells before settling on a spot...the thing to do here is really seafood, but we were all fished out after eating it pretty much every day we were there, so tacos it was! Fun night, although Marcos just shook his head and laughed when he discovered what we had eaten...haha...

And with that our Galapagos adventure had come to an end...what an amazing place and experience, it really lived up to expectations for me, and I think it would be a fantastic spot to bring children to see the animals...rumours were floating around of the government raising the entrance fee substantially (from $100 USD to as high as $400 USD?) to limit tourism for conservation purposes (or greed again depending on who you spoke to) so keep an eye on that...

(Some photos copyright of Karen C., denoted by (KC)...used with kind permission)


Additional photos below
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Why Go Around?Why Go Around?
Why Go Around?

When you can go over...haha...did eventually make it over...
Bird...Bird...
Bird...

...again no idea...
TortoisesTortoises
Tortoises

At CDRS
Attentive Audience...Attentive Audience...
Attentive Audience...

...at the Fish Market...
Keeping my distance...Keeping my distance...
Keeping my distance...

at El Chato Reserve (KC)


22nd June 2016
Land Iguana

Great adventures!
I've really been enjoying your visits to the islands and photos of the animals. Great to see that you can enjoy so much without having to take an expensive cruise though pretty scary that potential rise in prices! I'd best get there soon! Thanks for all the tips, too!
22nd June 2016
Land Iguana

Thanks Tara...
...yeah, the boats were really expensive but there are last minute details to be had...much cheaper to do it on your own but everyone we spoke to who did a cruise absolutely loved it...good reason to go back I guess...haha...

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