Next day keeping with the boat theme and early mornings, we jetted off to the largest of the Galápagos Islands, Isabela. Another very bumpy two hour boat trip….?
From Puerto Villamil, we took a truck bus up to the trail to Sierra Negra volcano. Although it was supposed to be on a road, it definitely felt like it was off-road! Sierra Negra is one of the largest shield craters in the world and had an active eruption only three months ago. It was about an hour’s hike to the crater and it was worth it. The view is jaw dropping.
That night Rich went to grab a pizza as I had caught the sun and captured this beautiful sunset.
Tortoises ? & Flamingos!
For our final day on Isabela, we visited another tortoise breeding centre with hundreds of tortoises varying in age and size. It’s pretty expensive to look after the tortoises. Dario (our guide) explained it costs around $1000 a year to rear each tortoise. Unfortunately last year over 120 tortoises went missing from the centre. These tortoises are extremely valuable on the black market and can be worth over $60,000 each. As you can imagine a major investigation is under way to find out where they’ve gone and they now have to count every tortoise in the centre each day.
After we’d had our fill of the tortoises (we were a little tortoised-out by this point!), we took a short walk through the mangroves to catch a glimpse of our first flamingos. There are approximately 300 on all the Galápagos Islands and they live for around 12 years. The adults are a dark pink compared with the younger flamingoes which are lighter in colour as they pick up colouring from eating shrimp and so the adults have had more time to build up more colour.
Sharks & Boobies
Once we’d had a quick snack, we headed over to Playa Isabela beach for our optional activity of kayaking combined with snorkelling. The conditions were perfect and we kayaked around the harbour, stopping every so often to hop off the kayaks into the water for a bit of snorkelling. The wildlife was incredible – we saw pretty much the full check list of Galapagos wildlife – blue footed boobies (birds!), iguanas, crabs, eagle rays, penguins and sea lions swimming…….#standard day
When we got out of the kayaks to snorkel, the water was pretty choppy but the snorkelling was still great. We saw shoals of fish, parrot fish turtles and sharks ?!!!!! I thought it was a big fish – but if I had realised, I would have been out of the water sharpish.
When we returned to the beach, every bench (and there were quite a few) had a sea lion perched on them. Get to close and they would bark or growl. We definitely know who runs the show in Isabela!
Reflections on Travelling
I can’t believe three weeks have passed, we’ve had an absolute ball so far and can’t thank every one who’s helped make this trip possible.
I don’t think we have ever switched off and relaxed as much! We have met fantastic people, seen beautiful scenery and wildlife and eaten some interesting and tasty food. It’s also been great having some time to enjoy Rich and he’s definitely encouraged me along the way, particularly on activities I may shy away from (I’m not sure I’ve forgiven him for the speedboat yet though!).
On the other hand the traveling is challenging. Lots of very early mornings, lots of travelling and putting yourself out there to try new things (I’ve just snorkelled with sharks!!). It definitely takes you out of your comfort zone. I’ve mainly travelled in quite westernised countries before and so I’m not used to feeling a bit more on guard and not always being able to walk around wherever I want at night. Interestingly, I haven’t missed my luxuries though maybe the luxuries have changed. I must say a trip to the launderette and having fresh clean clothes is now absolute bliss. How priorities change!