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Published: June 21st 2017
Geo: -0.922812, -90.9119
We arrived iinto Quito at the new airport, only opened two weeks ago (a rush job before last weeks election it seems) and a long hours drive into the city. Which meant that to get to the Galapagos Islands we had to return to the new airport at the crack of dawn ( leaving at 5.00am), As always we were too early for the plane and also found ourselves landing in Guayaquil for more passengers, so we were already half a day into our short 4 day Galapagos trip by the time we landed. Then onto a bus, a boat and another bus before we arrived for lunch on our Coral 1 cruise boat. By now we had sampled the Galapagos heat - quite ferocious- and seen something of Santa Cruz Island, the most populated by farmers and tourist shops on the harbour. But mostly the islands are very sparsely or uninhabited, with very green vegetation, given the present wet season, shrubs and cactus plants, providing no shade from the very hot sun. After 2 days of exposure, even with some cloud cover at times, we were pink as lobsters.
There were 35 passengers on the boat and a friendy
crew, with 3 naturalists who led the expeditions very knowledgeably, although our guide Victor Hugo was somewhat arrogant. Most of the fellow passengers were English speaking from Oz, USA and a big group of 23 travelling together from Canada. We got to know several of them over meals and 'activities' over the short cruise - most of them were staying on for 7 days. Good to have the company.
And the wildlife and scenery was fantastic. We accessed several beaches using the rubber speed boats, often with wet landings onto the beach where we went on short guided walks being careful not to step on the animals and birds at our feet. Then Liz went on fabulous snorkelling trips to discover the colourful big fish, shoals of little fish and swam with tortoises and stingrays. In the shallows near the beach we swam with sea lions - babies and mothers- and saw an occaional small penguin. We crept up on water and land ignuanas on the rocks and bright red crabs warned birds of their poisonous nature. We saw large black frigate birdswhirling and diving frequently and a male circled round a female sitting on the boat over our head just
really belongs in Peru bevause this is Arequipa airport as we left for Ecuador, but not too many airpors with volcanoes overlooking them
as our cruise was finishing. On the hottest afternoon ever, when several of us got mild sun-stroke we walked through a colony of blue-footed booby birds, with fluffy chicks hatching from their eggs. Sadly February is the only month when the colony of Albatrosses were absent before returning to nest. We also saw huge turtles swimming in the shallows, basking to get hot and energised before mating a little further from the shore. We could see the tracks where they drag themselves up the beach to dig the holes in which they lay their eggs.The massive tortoises, like lonesome Gearge who died recently were in the Darwin centre because they have become largely extinct in the wild and are now following an egg rearing programme in the hope that the species can be recreated in the wild.
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