Giant Tortoises

Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Santa Cruz Island, Galápagos, Ecuador
A 5.30 alarm was enough for me to make the 5.45 am breakfast, then 6.15 pick up for Quito airport along with the other 9 members of this group. The next adventure was about to begin but first we had to get there. A short 30 minutes flight to Guayaguil but we had to stay on board the plane for the 50 minutes transit stop. I wasn’t even allowed to use my computer to type due to the refilling of the aircraft.

Then the 1,167 km to Baltra airport which took 90 minutes. Turn the clocks back an hour. The plane was just a few metres from touchdown when it was full throttle on and up we climbed to do a complete circuit and then on the second attempt landed. I would love to know what caused the aborted landing. Possible stock on the runway?

It felt like landing at an South Pacific island airport with just the covered roof and literally no sides to allow the air to cool the inside of the terminal from the to me humid hot air outside.

Paid the US $100 National Park entrance fee. This fee funds the Park maintenance and supervision of the Park. It also funds the ecological study, conservation and infrastructure in Ecuador’s other National Parks.

Met and eventually boarded the bus for the short ride for an even shorter channel crossing over to Santa Cruz island, then onto our own bus for the 42 km or 45 min ride to Puerto Ayora which is the largest community in the Galapagos Islands. A short zodiac transfer to the 25.5 m Xavier III or G4.

Hansell, our guide by for the week, gave us the load down like conservation and how to save plastic bottles by refilling our own water bottle from the cooler, protection from sun burn being right on the equator, don’t feed the animals and stay on the trail plus the general routine of ship life including the all important emergency siren and where to meet.


Giant Tortoises

Lunch and then a bus trip up to the highlands, passing through Santa Rosa where fruit, vegetables and coffee are grown, to see the giant tortoises out in the wild at Rancho Primicias. No use to build a fence between the National Park and this private ranch as the tortoises would only knock it down. They can live for 180 years. Four thousand are on the island so at the moment no danger. With a slow metabolism, once eaten (vegetarian) they can survive with no food for 2 to 3 weeks. They can lay up to 16 eggs and a minimum of 2 eggs.

The picture of me sitting in the tortoise chair ..., the chair can be brought for US$1,500. Sorry my lounge is not big enough!

Walked a hundred metres inside a lava tube big enough that you could drive 2 vehicles side by side through it.

Videos still to be uploaded photos labelled and re-ordered.

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