Hola todos! How is everyone? I am great – I just got back from the Galapagos! It was amazing. Simply amazing. I have seen white sand before, but never have I seen water so beautiful. Just wait till you see the photos. And they don’t even do it justice. It was truly the trip of a lifetime, and I am so glad I went ahead and did it. It was worth every penny. And let me just say that while my trip was awesome, it was way too short. And while we got to see many things, and some things that people often miss, there is so much more to see. I would highly recommend, if you are going to go to the expense of visit, try to find a way to do one of the cruises, preferably a 10 day. That way you can see all of the islands, and since many animals are specific to certain islands you would get to see so much more that way.
We flew into Baltra Island on Sunday, arriving just after noon. The flight was only 1 hour and 45 minutes, so not bad at all. We then took a short bus ride to the other side of the island and got on a ferry to go across a short channel to Santa Cruz Island, where we were for the entire trip. We then got in a taxi and drove about an hour to the other side of Santa Cruz, to Puerto Ayora and our hotel.
The drive was extremely interesting, because we got to see all three geographic zones of the Galapagos: the coastal zone; the arid zone; and the humid zone. Obviously we started in the coastal zone, but as we drove the landscape quickly changed to one with very scruffy vegetation with many cacti and trees that looked dead but were actually dormant. This is their dry season, so all the plants were in conservation mode. Then, as we rose higher up the mountain, the landscape changed again and it became much greener and much cooler.
Our guide talked a lot on the trip about all the efforts to conserve the islands. It’s pretty impressive to hear about all the ways they approach it. Recycling is mandatory, water and energy conservation are stressed, taxi drivers are required to buy new cars every five years, littering is unheard of, plants and animals that are not native are eradicated, and they are extremely restrictive about what you can bring in. I had an apple for the plane ride and was not allowed to bring it. And then on the plane, they fumigated us. Well, they fumigated the overhead bins. But come on, we were on a plane – we were all fumigated.
After lunch we went to the Charles Darwin Center and saw some land iguanas and lots of turtles. They have a hatchery there, and it was pretty neat. They bring turtle eggs from all over the islands to hatch and raise until they are old enough to survive on their own, at around 5 years old. They have a success rate near 98%. Our guide told us it costs between $5000 and $6000 to raise a single turtle until it is ready to be released. We also saw Lonesome George, the last of his particular species.
After the tour, we were on our own and found a little path to a quiet beach where we watched the sun set. Amazing. When we got back to the hotel, we sat on the roof and looked at the lights from the boats at Pelican Bay.
I have so much to show y’all, but I am really tired today. I have no idea how many miles we walked each day, but my back is fully aware. So here are some photos from the first day, and I will be getting others up as soon as I can.