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Galapagos Cruise on the Angelito
Tortoise on Fernandina
It’s exciting to fly out of Quito since the city sits in a bowl high in the Andes, surrounded by mountain peaks, with the airport nestled right next to downtown. Soon we were up and over, on our way to our first island in the Galapagos.
Flying out of Quito, Ecuador, is exciting. The city sits in a bowl high in the Andes, surrounded by mountain peaks, with the airport nestled right next to downtown, so we fairly leapt out of the city, up and over the mountains. We made a short stop in Guayaquil, near the coast, and then on to Baltra, our first island in the Galapagos.
As we …
We woke up for a beautiful magenta sunrise, and watched a small shark fin cutting the water next to the boat. After breakfast, the boat anchored off Isla Mosquera (Fly Island), along with four or five other cruise ships. The pangas took us in through the surf to another gorgeous beach, this one a long spit of sand edged with jet-black lava. Here …
We woke up to watch the crew setting the anchor off Playa Tortua Negro beneath another lovely sunrise. (The day length, with sunrise and sunset promptly at six, was much the same as at home in Maine during the spring equinox, but with no twilight.)
First order of business after breakfast was a panga ride—a “no landing” trip …
The boat traveled to Bay Urbina, where we hiked into the lowlands of Fernandina. We saw land iguanas digging nests (slowly), and we were very lucky to see two tortoises which had traveled down from the highlands, where they usually stay, because the islands were unusually green this year due to a good rainy season. These tortoises, knee-high, …
In Punta Moreno, we walked on a long stretch of fissured pahoehoe lava to see a troupe of flamingoes trolling in a brackish pond. They were such clowns that you could imagine them in a Disney film, with their leader coaching them in a chorus line: “All together now, stretch necks, bob heads, wuk-wuk-wuk-wuk, flap wings, look around. Okay, …
In the town of Puerto Villamill, we strolled along a shady nature path that was part of an outpost of the Charles Darwin Research Center, admiring the flora—real trees!—and trying not to bump the marine iguanas sunning themselves on the railings. Then into the giant tortoise breeding center, dedicated to repopulating the islands after …
We panga-ed to Floreana’s beach and followed a sandy path to see flamingoes nesting at the edge of a lagoon. Max and Sina from Stuttgart enjoyed the mud in their bare feet, but the rest of us contented ourselves with listening to the Darwin’s finches chirping in the branches of nearby cactuses.
The real treat of the day was snorkeling …
At 2:00 a.m. we heard the anchor rattle up for the departure for Baltra. I got up to watch the crew maneuver expertly around the boats in the harbor. At dawn we circled Daphne Island, little more than a rocky cupcake, where a crew of scientists has been maintaining a long-term finch examination. They have actually been able to demonstrate …
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