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Friday, 31 December 2010

A Land Based Tour in the Galapagos - Page 4

Written by Christina Kay Bolton
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I had an early breakfast at the hotel of fruit, muesli, yogurt, toast and coffee and Galapagos photosthen was picked up to go on an excursion to the Sierra Negra volcano. We drove half an hour until the end of the road and then embarked on the four-hour hike. After about forty minutes we reached the caldera, a huge expanse that last erupted in 2005. Then we hiked to Volcan Chico, which has a beautiful vista between the sea surrounding us and the volcano.

Galapagos photos

Our guide told us about the volcanic activity on the islands and how Isabela and Fernandina are two of the most volcanically active islands on earth. Fernandina is so active that it keeps expanding and may at some point become attached to Isabela, after all Isabela started out as five separate volcanoes that eventually joined into the largest island of the Galapagos. Along the way we saw a Galapagos short eared owl (in daytime!), a vermillion flycatcher, lizards, yellow warblers, and interesting plants such as Galapagos cotton. We took a break for lunch before descending, but by then it was quite hot.



Galapagos photosIt was a relief to get back to my hotel and jump into the sea to cool down. It was just me and a stingray, but there must have been a large school of fish that swam into the area because all of the sudden there were many blue footed boobies swarming over my head and diving down all around me. Also seals, pelicans and frigates came and joined in. There must have been a hundred birds circling around as I got out of the water to watch. After the feeding frenzy the blue-footed boobies stayed perched on the rocks and ten pelicans were floating on the shore – it was like Las Tintoreras (a popular day-trip area nearby) had come to me!

Galapagos photosIn late afternoon I went to the lagoon right in town to watch the flamingos; there were only three of them, but they were so elegant and graceful. For dinner I went to Los Delfins where a soup, grilled fish with rice, juice and dessert cost just $7.




Galapagos photosIn the morning I went on a day trip to Los Tuneles. Myself and some others from my hotel had hired a fishing boat to take us out there. It is a forty-five minute boat ride out and is an area incredibly rich with sea life. It is an area of large and small tunnels and archways created from volcanic rock. The soft parts have been worn away by the sea, creating many calm caverns which are ideal for fish, sea turtles, and sharks, among others.

Our noisy, smelly boat somehow maneuvered through the formations and then Galapagos photos we got out and walked around some of them, watching the huge sea tortoises and eagle rays float by in the clear water below us. As this area was protected, we went to a different area to go snorkeling (though if you ask me, our snorkeling would have been much less disruptive than the boat we were in). The fishing boat captain was our guide and knew the area well, although he didn’t speak English. We saw white-tipped sharks, barracuda, puffer fish, eagle rays, a huge manta ray, tortoises, lots of colorful fish, and best of all, sea horses! It was incredible. I wished I had brought an underwater camera.

Galapagos photos Along the rocks we also saw Galapagos penguins (they’re so cute!) and more blue-footed boobies. Although the boat was very basic with a fuming motor that didn’t seem like it was going to make it, and didn’t come with the usual tour amenities of lunch, snorkeling gear, and an English-speaking guide, Los Tuneles is a spectacular place to explore and I’m surprised that you don’t see it on many tourist itineraries.

When we returned I stayed down at the dock area to go snorkeling at Concha de Perla, a natural ‘pool’ near the docks with lots of fish and sea lions. It is a short walk through the mangroves to get to the quiet, sheltered spot, and you may run into sea lions right on the walkway.

(Page 4 of 6)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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