Ecuador – Galapagos Part 1

baltra

From Baltra on the island of Santa Cruz, the Galapagos looked completely different than what I’d expected.   I expected a habitat teeming with unique wildlife but saw this instead:

baltra

It was humid and cloudy, but the landscape looked dry.  I was happy to be back at sea-level after spending a day in Quito.  After taking a short ferry ride and hopping in a van, however, the views changed rapidly as we gained elevation on Santa Cruz Island.  Lunch was served at Narwhal Restaurant.  This part of the island was a very lush green – though many of the plants were invasive species that thrived with the lack of adequate competition.

table set for lunch

We eventually headed down to Puerto Ayora to our hotel but first took a walk and water taxi around.

the docks at night in puerto ayora Water taxis at the Puerto Ayora pier.

We walked up Avenida Baltra to check out the town.  I wandered into a recreational center and stumbled across some people playing Ecuavolley .  I would have been intrigued watching a good traditional volleyball game, but this was captivating.  The net is higher and they play with a soccer ball (ouch!).  As a result, there is a lot less hitting and most points result from someone “setting” the ball over the net.  I use quotes because most of the sets would be considered carries in traditional volleyball… but it’s not surprising since they use a much heavier and harder ball.

 

equavolley

 

This kid was running around as we walked back out to the street: running child

 

 

 

The next day, we walked around before rejoining the group.

Here’s a Galapagos brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) that was hanging out near the boardwalk.

a galapagos brown pelican

 

We visited Galapagos Safari Camp – where one can stay in an eco-luxury tent if they choose to spend time on land in the Galapagos rather than on a boat.  It’s a beautiful place that was delgihtfully designed and arranged.  Here’s the main dining table in their lobby:

 

galapagos safari camp

 

and one of the tents:

galapagos safari camp tent

 complete with hot shower, air conditioning, and a real flushing toilet.  this is glamping at its best.

 —

We set out to see the giant tortoises that the Galapagos is so well-known for.  Our tour group stopped by a private farm where the giant tortoises are known to hang out.

galapagos tortoise

 we saw three tortoises that day.  Apparently the number that you see can vary from none at all to dozens.

We also stopped into a lava tube.  The one we visited was some of the caves or caverns in the national parks in the US – where people have decided to run electricity in and add steps and railings and so on.  that was fine with me.  Our guide explained that the tubes form when a large river of lava cools and hardens on the outside before the inside can harden.  The lava on the inside eventually vacates the interior of the flow leaving a hollow tube.  I took this photo while looking back at the entrance of the tube:

lava tube

 

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