Its time like these when all you want is a go pro

Trip Start Oct 01, 2012
Trip End Oct 01, 2015

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Flag of Ecuador  , Galapagos,
Wednesday, January 16, 2013

It was time to head to the 3rd and final island we were visiting on the Galapagos - Isla Isabela. It was another early start and after being shown towards a number of different waiting points we were then directed to the pier leaving us a little confused as to why we didn't just meet there, never the less we boarded a rickety looking boat a d headed off on the 2hr journey. The boat was more comfortable than the last in that we all had a seat however the lady in front must have been feeling a little sick as she had her head hung out the window most of the time resulting in here being completely soaked from the shoulders up and us being cooled down every time we went over a wave. As we came into the harbour we neared some rocks and the boat boys started pointing and shouting penguins - I couldn't see anything but tai did with his supersonic vision! We negotiated with a local hotel owner when we arrived and were soon off to our new home for the next few days. We ditched our stuff and immediately set off to explore. We decided to first head off to a trail that leads through the wetlands areas. Marine iguanas littered the path - they seemed to be more active than the others we'd seen in that they actually moved when they got near to you rather than just watching you pass with there scary eyes! We carried on and came to some huge lagoons which had the odd flamingo dotted about on them! We continued our way along the trail ducking under the mangrove trees and passing poison apples trees along the route - apparently the giant tortoises are the only animal which can digest these apples, to everyone else they are toxic - evolution!
At the end of the trail was another tortoise breeding centre. Not quite tortoised out just yet we decided to pay it a little visit. We spent the next hour or so here and it was by far the best one we'd been to - the information centre explained how tortoises developed from inside the egg through to 100+ years old. Apparently when the mother lays the eggs in the sand she then deserts then - if the babies are lucky enough not to be eaten whilst still in the egg then they face another battle once they hatch, they have to dig there way to the surface which can take them up to a month in the pitch black with no food or water, it then takes 20 years for them to be big enough and there shells to be strong enough so they can fend for themselves! The centre try's to recreate this process and we saw an enclosure where they put the new horns for a month once they are born. We were also lucky enough to meet a worker who showed us some test tubes which contained foetuses at 4 different stages of development and then a tortoise which had just been born!
That afternoon we took out snorkelling stuff down to the beach and went for a swim , the water wasn't that clear and so we settled for an afternoon of sunbathing. As we looked out to the area we'd just been we noticed some sea lions swimming around!
That night the hotel owner told us of a street party which head happening, there was also one on San cristobal when we were there and we figured out they were some kind of political campaign - it seems here when there is an election the parties just throw numerous street parties!
The following day we decided to walk to the far end of the beach which took about an hour and head to some natural rock pool, unfortunately we'd timed it wrong and arrived at low tide when the rock pools were nothing more than puddles! There were hundreds of marine iguanas though so that was cool to see. On the way there we did pass a tunnel which was formed by a volcano eruption and leads down to the sea - as the tide was out we could go down into the tunnel a little - it was pitch black and scary and I kept imagining a troll to grab me from the darkness - I've been reading too much of the hobbit I think (since writing I would like to update I have given up on the hobbit!)
We began our walk back towards the town and as we passed some rocks along the beach tai spotted an octopus walking / sliding between some rocks!! After lunch - more sandwiches - we headed to an area called concha y perla - meaning shell and pearl. It's a bay which is walled off by rocks making it a little natural
Swimming pool - the water was lovely and clear and we couldn't believe it when just after we got in a sea lion swam right by us, stopped in front of us and looked at us - tilting it's head from left to right before deciding it didn't want to play and swam off again. We were both so excited to have seen it swimming around so close to us especially as it was just us in the bay - if only we had a go pro it would of made for an awesome video! We have found ourselves in deserted areas a lot since we've been here - it seems most people stay and cruise around on yachts so all the islands have been deserted and we've normally had miles of un touched sandy beaches to ourselves. We explored the bay and corals for a while becoming heading back for the day.
The following day excited by what we'd seen at concha y perla we decided to head back and do some more snorkelling - this time however we only swam along fish and not sea lions but it was very cool non the less. That afternoon we went to las tintoreras - a place just off the coast known for white tipped reef sharks. First stop was snorkelling in a little bay not too dissimilar to concha y perla, around around 5 minutes we couldn't believe our luck when we spotted a huge turtle swimming around a small reef, it stayed there for ages and we were able to float around watching it. We also saw a huge ray, a very colourful eel swimming around and of course lots and lots of fish. Next stop was the tintoreras so we jumped back in the boat and headed off. We soon approached another small island and headed off on our walk. On the way the guide told us to be careful not to step on the baby iguanas, we though we was just exaggerating until we rounded a corner and there were literally hundreds of them, they were all roughly 6 months old and filled the path, laying on top of each other! Then we came to a small channel of crystal clear water and watched a reef shark swim by until it settled with about 5 others on the sea bed. Apparently they hunt solely at night and in the day they rest on the bed of this channel - we also saw about 3 turtles glide through the water too. Our walk continued past lots of marine iguanas and birds until we came to an area where lots of sea lions were resting - they rest a lot so much I'm surprised they aren't on the brink of extinction like everything else here! There was 1 male and around 30 females and apparently they just take it in turn to get impregnated by him! We were lucky enough to see some of the baby's which were just a couple of months old and all scraggly looking!
We headed back to the boat where we cruised slowly around the islands back to the mainland. As we rounded a corner our day was made even better when we saw 3 little Galapagos penguins and the famous blue footed boobies chilling on some rocks. So that was it we'd seen all the animals we'd hoped to see here- except of course for a manta ray - this quest for this continues!
As the sun set we arrived back at the port and jumped into the back of a truck for our bumpy ride back to the hostel!
The next day was hot hot hot and we decided to try and head back to the rock pools, after another long walk we mis judged it again and arrived at low tide so turned around and headed to our favourite place concha y perla. We swam around the entire bay and as we neared the place where we started 2 sea lions jumped in the water (encouraged slightly by a young boy clapping loudly in there faces) and swam around us for a while. We hung out here for a while longer before heading off in search of some shade- finding it at the hammocks of our hostel where we spent the rest of the afternoon. At around 6 we walked to the beach and watched as the sun set on the water. Our final day on Isabella we decided to head to the highlands to an active volcano. I was originally going to wear flip flops but tai talked me out of it insisting he thought it was quite a long walk. I'm glad he did as when we met our guide he told us it was an 18km round trip and should take us around 5-6 hours!
We set off and after a while found ourselves on the rim of the largest active volcano crater on the world, it was about 9km wide, 10km across and had a circumference of around 30km. The lady eruption was in 2005 and the crater is still hot and black from it- apparently if it rains you can see steam rise up from it. We walked along the run before we headed off on another path - we had just learned we were visiting 2 volcanoes today! After a quick lunch stop beneath a tree whose sap you can use as washing detergent we were on our way again. This time the landscape changed dramatically and we found ourselves walking across the volcano Chico. It last erupted 39 years ago and spewed 2 types of lava which made up a landscape consisting of lava tunnels and pieces of small solidified lava rock of an array of colours from blue black to yellows and reds. It felt like we were on a different planet. It seems that cactuses can survive volcano eruptions as there were lots of candelabra cactuses which only grow 1cm every year and they were huge and must of been hundreds of years old. We passed a small break in the ground and we told to put our hand by it, you could feel the heat coming out! We passed many little craters until we got to the largest and a view out towards the ocean, you could see the trail the former eruption had left as the landscape was still completely black. It was incredible and even better as it was a complete surprise we were even visiting there. We then began our long walk back and by the time we got back to the hostel we collapsed on the bed shattered.
The following morning we left Isabella and began our slow journey back to the first island. On Santa cruz we visited a few of our favourite places and even went out for dinner at a chifa restaurant instead of our normal cuisine of sandwiches! The final boat we got on our penultimate day had a top floor which fitted around 6 people we were lucky enough to get a seat up there and hoped the fresh air would do our sea sickness some good!
It was the best journey ever! Not only could you hardly feel the waves but we also got to see a huge manta ray jumping and flipping out of the water a few times! Apparently they do this for 2 reasons either to get parasites off them or if it's a female it's because they are trying to get the baby into a position to be born! We even saw some dolphins! When we docked at San cristobal there were loads of people - I imagine most of the island waiting on the dock waving flags it seems one of the political leaders was on our boat and was welcomed with cheers and high fives before they all followed him down the road - probably on route to another street party!
On San cristobal there wasn't any hotels available and we ended up having to pay $40 so we decided to make the most of our overpriced hotel room and watch some tv - fox liiiiiifeeee being our favourite channel!
The Galapagos had been such an awesome unique experience and hopefully one we will never forget!
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