Land Iguanas, Frigate Birds, Giant Tortoises

Trip Start Feb 22, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Ecuador  , Galápagos,
Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bartolome and North Seymour Islands, July 28th - Pinnacle Rock

By our fifth day on the Letty we were starting to really settle into "yacht-life".  For starters, we had gratefully found our sea legs and were hardly ever noticing the rock and sway of the boat anymore.  We also had adjusted to our demanding, but extremely rewarding, daily routines.  From sun-up to sun-down our days were packed with two island hikes, one or two snorkeling trips and a seemingly continuous feasting schedule.  To say the least, we never went bored or hungry!  During the evenings we would then kick back and relax to a round of cards or movie in the "living room" before heading down to our cozy cabin.

Thursday morning brought us the Bartolome Island, an inhospitable volcanic rock with a lofty and picturesque summit.  Although there wasn't much flora or fauna to see during our land excursion, we did enjoy the stunning views of Pinnacle Rock and learning a bit more about the lava formations.  After the hike and a quick deep snorkel in the bay (where we saw dozens of starfish in all shapes and sizes), we headed over the North Seymour Island.  Here, during the intense heat of the equatorial afternoon (one our hottest of the trip), we headed out for our second hike of the day.  With a little luck and some good spotting we managed to locate six giant land iguanas, a bunch of frigate birds and one of the Galapagos snake species.  Since it's rare to see even one snake species, everyone was excited to have found a second species - especially Missi's reptilian-loving brother, Jon.

Santa Cruz Island, July 29th - Tortoise, Charles Darwin Research Station

After another relaxing evening and a short night cruise south, we arrived at Santa Cruz Island - one of the few inhabited islands in the Galapagos.  After taking our pangas to the pier, we started the day with a short and scenic bus ride up the islands highlands.  It was strange to be back in civilization again, but even stranger to be walking on solid ground.  You couldn't help but feel like you were swaying back and forth whenever we stopped to stand around... but dat tis the life of a pirate!

On our way we made a quick stop at "the tunnels", the largest lava tubes in the Galapagos.  It was pretty interesting to learn about the formation of these 20 foot high tubes.  More than anything though, it was just a fun experience to walk through them.  At any moment you expected lava to come shooting through the tunnel or some nocturnal beast to jump at you from around the corner - very erie!

After our journey to the center of the earth, we headed to see the island's main highlight - the impressive giant tortoises!  Safely roaming on a private reserve, these gentle creatures were a real trip to see.  Never had we experienced such strange elongated necks or impossibly slow movements.  We can only imagine what it must have been like when Darwin first arrived and they roamed the islands by the thousands.  Our guess is he must have been equally stunned, amazed and bewildered.

  In the afternoon, we continued our tortoise trip by visiting the Charles Darwin Research Station.  Here we saw their breeding center (full of 100's of cute hatchlings) and learned of their important work in saving these endangered giants.  Again, the highlight was seeing these massive beasts up close as they slowly and awkwardly plodded around.  (Check out the video!!)

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