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Published: April 1st 2011
Great Frigate Bird
The males show their stuff by poofing up their red chests. The Magnificent Frigate Bird has the purple feathers on the back instead of the green. But are very similar.
Hello to Everyone.
The Galapagos Islands are 1000km from the Ecuadorian mainland and are otherworldly! Almost like going back in time to the prehistoric period, the wildlife is so strangely tame - it is almost surreal. Most of the flora and fauna are endemic to the islands too. The most famous residents being the Giant Tortoises of which there are 11 different subspecies. There were more species, but introduced animals and human interference (hunting and farming) have made three subspecies extinct and the Pinto Island Giant Tortoise has been reduced to a single individual - Lonesome George... It was a pleasure to meet him but kind of sad to know that he is the last creature of his type - ever! He is a mere 75 years old, so barely half way through his time on Earth and we are sure he will be witness to many more extinctions. He resides in the Charles Darwin Research Station, a breeding facility for the tortoises.
We rented bikes for a day on Santa Cruz Island, and biked out to the south western part of the island to see some of the giants in the wild and in their natural habitats - we
saw about a dozen.
We explored a lot of the islands independently, but to get to the more remote ones you have to take an organised tour/cruise. We set off in the rustic "Angelique" with a group of 15. The Angelique is a wonderful boat with nice rooms and great food. Our guide was also very knowledgable with a great sense of humour. Our boat took us to the islands of Genovesa, Santiago, Bartolome, and finally to La Isla Santa Cruz.
La Isla Genovesa is without any doubt one of the most amazing yet peculiar places that we´ve ever been to! It has a Jurassic Park feel to it, with a bird population that has no concern of us being there - we were literally stepping over them. The island is home to the magnificent frigate bird, red-footed and nazca boobies (yes - boobies) and many other species. They number in their thousands - it really has to be seen to be believed and appreciated!
La Isla Bartolome is a spectacular landscapes of lava-rock and volcanic cones with sealions and penguins lining the shore. We hiked to the top of the volcano and enjoyed the amazing views
up close and personal
the galapagos animals do not have fear of humans for various reasons. The main one is no natural predators.
of the surrounding islands.
La Isla Isobela is the largest island in the archipelago and is also volcanic. We hiked around one of the giant craters (Cerro Negra) and had stunning vistas of the other volcanoes on the island. The main town on the island, Puerto Villamil, is a great place to chill-out and watch the hundreds of marine iguanas that roam around. There were lagoons nearby with flamingoes and an incredible little island five minutes from shore that is teaming with iguanas and sealions.
Snorkelling in the diverse waters surrounding the islands was a real treat too! We had an incredible experience with a Galapagos sealion, twirling and spinning around us for a good amount of time. We swam next to a Green sea-turtle and gazed down onto white-tipped reef sharks, watched manta rays glide by and peguins rocket by! There were thousands of brightly coloured fish, sea urchins and starfish lurking beneath the crystal clear Pacific. Above the water we watched as sea lions, sharks and pelicans hunted flying fish under the cover of the starry night sky. Orion stared down on us as did the southern cross, but the Milkyway´s band stole the show. We
even had a glimpse of the Magellan cloud!
The pelicans, angelfish, clown fish, crabs, sea turtles, rays, sharks, etc... kept reminding me of the movie, Finding Nemo! I kept on hearing the crabs say " hay!.... hay!...and clicking their claws! haha! (T)
On a spectacular trail through a cactus forest on the central island of Santa Cruz we got a breif show of two mocking birds doing their courtship dance, which was a real treat. Finches of various species and the cute little lava-lizards were everywhere. at the end of the trail was a stunning white beach crawling with marine iguanas and rimmed by mangroves. The 30 degree equatorial sun beamed down into the delightful turquoise waters.
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