The best day ever - Lava Tunnels

Trip Start Sep 07, 2011
Trip End Sep 06, 2012

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Flag of Ecuador  , Galapagos Islands,
Tuesday, August 7, 2012

I got up at about 7.30 am and had some breakfast before heading out to find the tour agencies. I walked along the main drag to find out where they all were first of all before walking to the end of the road where it hits the beach as I wanted to see the Iguana's that hang around here.  There are signs everywhere saying 'Please Drive Slowly, Iguana’s Crossing).  There is a bridge just by the road which leads to some sort of lake and it was covered in Iguana’s.  It was such an odd sight.

I headed back towards the agencies when I bumped into Diana’s Mum.  These were the people that Mel and I met on our first day trip.  She was so pleased to see me and I was surprised to see her as I thought they were going back to Santa Cruz today.  Teresa doesn’t really speak any English and I was trying to ask her where everyone was and what I was doing.  She led me to a tour agency where I got the impression that the other guys had booked a tour with.  When I got there, the owner asked me did I want to go to the Lava Tunnels.  Now I had read about this and it is the No 1 thing to do on Isabela, so was very keen.  I asked when and he said right now.  Obviously I didn’t have anything on me, apart from money and he said that was fine as we would be driving right past my hostel.  When I asked how much, one guy said $60 and then the owner said $65.  Straight away I said $60 it is then, as the other guy had said it.  Happy days.

I said goodbye to Teresa and jumped into the back of the van and they drove me to my hostel and I quickly ran in to get my stuff and hopped back in the van to the port.  When I got there, Jess, Diana and Dan were amazed to see me.  They were so happy that I was coming on the trip with them.

We jumped into the speed boat and headed out on the 1 hr trip to the lava tunnels.  About 10 minutes into the journey, the skipper as Dan, did he bring the lunch box on board.  Apparently they had given it to him at the dock, but he didn’t realise it was his responsibility to bring it on board.  We had to turn back and go and get it and when we arrived at the port, it was still sat there.  Lucky really, the sea lions could have had it!!

We set sail again and it did take about an hour to get to our destination.  It was a great ride over as it was a smaller speed boat and a fun one to be on.  To get into the area where the lava tunnels are, you have to navigate very carefully and it takes a skilled driver to get in.  You also have to make sure that the tide is right as you could get stuck on the rocks.  Basically, there is a small gap where you have to ride the waves into the protected area.  If you get it wrong either the waves can come crashing over the boat, or you hit the rocks.  Some trips have been cancelled as it has been too rough to get in, especially over the past few days after the full moon.  We were lucky and the captain was very skillful.

The area around the lava tunnels was formed over hundreds of thousands of years ago.  Isabela has 3 volcanoes which are active.  The last one I believe erupted in 1995.  Molten lava ran across the land until it hit the ocean and then solidified.  Over the years the ocean has eroded the lava and has left amazing formations, especially the tunnels.  This area is minefield for marine life.  The water is very shallow and crystal clear.  As we navigated through the channels, we saw turtles, sea lions, a penguin, and to top it off, I came face to face with a Blue Footed Boobie.  At last, I can say that I have actually seen one.  I have taken a photo of one before but I didn’t know what it was as I had zoomed in as far as I could with my camera and thought it was a seagull.  To top it off, the sun even came out and it made everything look so magical.

The captain sailed through the channels and found a spot to moor up so that we could get off of the boat and walk around for 30 minutes.  We walked to one section and looked down into the shallow waters and right before my eyes, two huge sea turtles were swimming around.  They are such graceful creatures.  I can’t wait to swim with them later.  One of the highlights for me was just about to happen.  The captain had spotted 2 Blue Footed Boobies so we went over to see.  As soon as we got there, they started to do their dance.  It was a male and a female and the male was doing his dance to impress the female.  I recorded the dance on my camera, and I would love to share it with you all, but it would take about a year to upload so you will have to wait until I get home to see it.  It was such an amazing sight and I am truly blessed to have been able to witness this.  In the end, the male didn’t get anything as the female was too busy preening herself to accept his advances.

After this awesome experience, we got back onto the boat and were taken to our first snorkelling spot.  It was a shame that we couldn’t snorkel where the turtles were, however, where we went was pretty awesome.  There were huge schools of fish around, all different species, a sea lion came to say hello and we also got up really close to the penguin.  I swam right up to a blue footed boobie and got a close up of his feet.  They really are beautiful.  No turtles around this time.

After this snorkel we got back on the boat and sailed back out into the waves and yet again, the captain did a good job. He then took us a little further east, heading back towards the port, where we entered another shallow section where we saw lots of turtle heads poking out of the water.  He sailed in a little further and then dropped anchor.  He told us that we all had to stay in the group this time as there was a possibility we would see sharks.  Not to worry us at all as they are harmless, however, people might get freaked out about it so best to stick together. 

In this section there were more lava caves and when we entered them, we were not disappointed.  There were about 5 or 6 white tip sharks sleeping in the semi darkness.  It was amazing to see them.  One person got a little to close and it swam away.  Disappointing for everyone else and they were quickly told not to get too close.  Whilst swimming to another section, Dan caught sight of a ray and quickly swam after it.  I followed him but it had swum away too quickly.

The other highlight for me was to happen next.  We were swimming in a group and all of a sudden we came across two turtles settled at the bottom on the ocean floor.  All of about 6 feet deep.  The guide slowly went towards them to make them move and once one started to swim, he pushed me forward and I must have swum on top of that turtle for about 5 minutes.  It was the best feeling in the world.  It wasn’t disturbed by my presence, it was like it wanted me to follow, so I did.  Wow, I was speechless.

The other funny thing that happened that day which I forgot to mention earlier was when we were in one of the tunnels, I had Diana next to me whilst we were watching a shark.  When it moved, she freaked out and pushed me towards it.  Thanks mate.  So I get eaten first so you have time to swim away.  I thought it was hilarious!  Mind you, the shark was about 2 metres long.  Would pack a nasty bite if it did!

We staying snorkelling here for about 40 minutes before we had to get back on the boat and head back to the port.  Once we were back out in the deep water it started to rain.  I was not prepared for any of this as I only had chance to grab my towel and swimmers, so I had to cover myself with my wet towel to keep dry.  It didn't last for very long thank god as I was getting a little cold.  We were at full speed heading back when the captain stopped the boat pretty quick.  To our amazement, there were huge manta rays swimming on the surface. They had to be about 3 to 4 metres long. They were incredible. The captain asked if anyone wanted to get in so Dan jumped in straight away, followed by two of the girls. The captain turned the boat round and circled the manta so that it would not swim away and they guys had chance to look at it and follow it. Unfortunately for the girls, they weren't very strong swimmers. Dan was on it straight away and to be honest it felt as though he was chasing it away from everyone. He was a pretty strong swimmer and kept up with it for a while and then it went. Wow. This day could not get any better. We saw a further 3 or 4 on the way back to the port. This is definately the best day I have had on my whole trip. Unbelievable.

Later that evening, we all met up for happy hour at one of the hostels nearby to have a drink and then go out to dinner together.  Diana, Dan, Jess & Teresa are heading back to Santa Cruz tomorrow so I have arranged to meet up with them when I am back on Thursday.  I have also been invited to stay with Teresa when I get to Quito as this is where she lives so I'm going to be looked after for a few days and taken around the city.  Happy days

I have to find someone to marry here as I never want to leave. Got just under a week to find someone!!!
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Melissa on

Oh wow....sounds like I should have stayed there with you!! Glad you are still loving the islands :-) I will defo have to go back again some day

Mama on

Keeley, there are so many wonderful photos and I have made so many ahs and wows and goshes that I just can't make any more comments on each individual picture. Your experience is phenominal and its been a joy sharing it with you. Than you. xxxx p.s. Keep looking for that rich man!!!

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