We have had a good time in the Galapagos. The big thing here is the animals and we have managed to see most of what we came to see. The biggest and most unlikely, we did not, the whale shark, as it is the very beginning of whale shark season.
We planned 5 days on land at the end of the dive boat tour and we wanted to see what else was around. While aboard the dive boat we went on 3 different land excursions and had a taste of what there was above water.
Once our feet are on terra firma on Santa Cruz we want to hook up with a land tour or two. I pound the pavement talking to a plethora of guiding companies and none them are going to any of the places I had picked out prior to arriving. We could get to North Seymour on Friday, unfortunately that is the day our plane leaves. Debbie is not well and after some discussion we think it best not to spend the exorbitant fees to go on the day tours and instead will hack around Puerto Ayora taking in the closer attractions.
Day 1: We hike to Las Gretas – it is a crack in the landscape filled with a mixture of sea water, supplied through an under ground aquifer and fresh water from rain and runoff. The water is cold but very refreshing after a 30 or 40 minute hike in the mangroves. There is a small but picturesque beach half way back to town worth a cool down dip.
The afternoon is spent mooching around town. Checking out the tourist shops, the arrival of the fishing boats at the central dock and having a coke at a street front bar watching the world go by.
The arrival of the fisher boats is a daily circus of activity. There is a cleaning and selling station on the dock. Several pelicans and one sea lion are aware that this has potential for a free meal. No searching, chasing, or killing involved. Just stand around looking kind of casual and a fish gut or two will end up flying your way.
Day 2: The morning is spent on a manicured, 5 foot wide, paved the entire length with lava rock paving stones and lined both sides with 1 foot high rock wall, trail leading to Bahia Tortuga (Turtle Bay). The walk is kind of odd. It is a nature walk but the high tech trail makes it easy and fast. There are a few birds to see on the way and the terrain is full of trees and bushes, but we don’t know what any of them are and even if we had a guide that explained each and every one I would not remember them.
The first beach is a long expanse of wonderful sand with 4 or 5 foot waves crashing on the shore. The park ranger and the signs suggest swimming on this particular beach is not a good idea. The currents in the area are strong and can be dangerous, even though the surfers roam these waters in pursuit of their excitement.
A big part of visiting this area is the iguanas, sea lions, turtles, other sea life plus good snorkeling. We are headed to the second beach with the hopes of finding some of these.
Half way there we catch up to an iguana moseying along. He is headed in the same direction as us so we join him for a while noting his walking style. He walks moving his left forefoot and right hind foot forward together at the same time. Then the opposite pair move. This makes for a wiggly, twisty progression forward but according to Darwin these movements would have developed over thousands of years and have served the species quite well. I think I prefer our bipedal movement thanks.
Having much longer legs then the iguana we leave him behind quite quickly. Our next animal encounter is a human. We see from a distance that she is trying to signal us with odd arm and hand motions. We are quite good at ignoring odd displays and do not rush ahead to see what the fuss is about. But, as we get closer we notice this woman is videoing a small black squiggling object on the sand. A few more steps and the object become recognizable as a baby sea turtle making a mad dash for the perceived safety of the ocean. Oh man this was not something we had expected to see on any trip and here it is in front of us. I then fire up my small video camera and record as much of the 25 m journey as possible. He makes it to the water and we cheer!!
The destination beach is stunning. A protected bay by a natural breakwater at the mouth, wonderful sand to lounge on, trees for shade and lousy snorkeling. No sea lions, no iguanas, few fish, murky vis, and despite the name, not one turtle.
The return walk revels a few more sets of tracks indicating a couple more young turtles have made it to the water, increasing their chance of surviving for another day.
Our afternoon was spent in a similar fashion to yesterday, hanging around main street with the other tourists.
We did get to see examples of most of the animals that make these islands famous and had a mind blowing encounter with mini version of one of the greatest sea creatures on our last day. We are both happy with what we have done and seen here in the Galapagos and return home fulfilled.