I am not really a nature-lover person, just the thought of insects crawling up my legs and stepping on gooey mud when hiking up a mountain grosses me out, but this trip was an exception. Seeing volcanic white sand, sparkling turquoise water, and interacting with sea lions was amazing. It all started on July 19, 2012 when we arrived to the TAME counter in Quito’s Mariscal Sucre International airport. My family and I were ready to depart to the enchanted islands of Galapagos.
The Galapagos Islands, best known as the location of Charles Darwin’s observation of finches, and his theory of evolution and natural selection, is located 1,000 km away from Ecuador. There is a wide diversity of animals and places with panoramic views of the island.
My family and I visited a total of 4 islands (San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, Isabela, and Bartolomé). Each island had a beauty of its own.
From Quito, Ecuador’s Capital, to the island of San Cristobal is a 2 hour flight. Our first stop was CERRO TIJERETAS (Frigate Bird Hill), the loop is 3.5 miles and travel time is 2 hours. It is one of the only places where you can watch two species of frigate birds nesting in the same colony. The males, with long wings and tail, have a red pouch underneath their beaks which inflate like a balloon during the breeding season to attract a mate. After we walked the hill, we went to the pier to catch our boat to the hotel, Hotel Crossman, in Santa Cruz. The boat ride from San Cristobal to Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz was about 2 hours. The only method to get from island to island is on a boat.
In Santa Cruz, we visited the Charles Darwin Research Station; this is where the legendary Lonesome George, the last turtle of his species, lives. Sadly, just 2 days after we visited him, news spread that George, 100 yrs. old, had died. I cried when I heard of his death, it’s unbelievable to see such a historic animal before his last days. You can donate money to the Charles Darwin Research station, with your donation they can investigate more on endangered species. (http://www.darwinfoundation.org/english/pages/index.php )
“The Rock” restaurant is the place to eat in Puerto Ayora, many locals and tourists enjoy the food and the specialty of the island, Wahoo fish, a dry fish similar to tuna. Don’t forget to go to Tortuga Bay, a white sandy beach with turquoise water. Remember to bring your camera, as there are several sea lions on the beach. You can take pictures with them, but stay at least 1 meter away from them; as they can be aggressive animals.
In Isabela, snorkeling is the best thing to do; swimming and being able to see fish and sea lions up close was an unforgettable experience. Las Tintoreras is a long walk but so worthwhile because you can find a selection of penguins, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, flamingos and sharks.
At our last stop, the island of Bartolomé, which used to be a volcano, you can walk up 450 stairs to see volcanic rock and dried lava encompassing the blue-greenish oceanic water. From the last mirador, one can see the famous Pinnacle rock, which is a Galapagos landmark.
This trip has made me appreciate nature and the uniqueness of what the Island has to offer. It made me understand the importance of animals and their habitat, because many animal species in the Galapagos and worldwide are in danger of extinction. I invite you all to visit this Natural Heritage of Humanity.
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