Galápagos Islands: Part 5

Day 9 Saturday: Santa Cruz

Our last full day in the Galápagos was spent at Santa Cruz. In the morning excursion, we visited the Charles Darwin Research Station in Puerto Ayora. Among many activities the Centre runs breeding programmes for giant tortoises and land iguanas. It was the final home of Lonesome George, the last known Pinta Island tortoise, until he died in June 2012.

On the way back to the quay, we spotted the local fish market, which was very popular with the local pelicans and one sea lion. The local Galápagos lobster was available. This was served on board along with other local produce. I confess that I became rather bored with the lobster by the end of the week.

Afternoon saw us taking a coach trip to the Highlands to see tortoises in the wild. The venue was actually a private ranch, but we were assured that the tortoises were free range. The habitat of the ranch suited their needs and they roamed freely. Some of the tortoises were a little disturbed by our presence and would make a kind of guttural hissing, if anyone got too close.

Other photos from the day are here.

Day 10 Sunday: Moving On

Our voyage on Celebrity Xpedition ended as it had begun with a Zodiac ride. This time in the wrong direction back to the quay, followed by a coach ride to Baltra Airport and a flight to Quito where our cruise group split up: most were going home, but a handful like us were going on to Machu Picchu, and so we transferred to a flight to Lima in Peru.

It was a fantastic week, which I cannot recommend too highly. The food and service on board was first class. And, of course, the visits to the different islands were just magical.

Galápagos Part 1  Galápagos Part 2 Galápagos Part 3 Galápagos Part 4

Galápagos Islands: Part 3

Day 5 Tuesday: Floreana

Floreana is one of the four islands visited by Charles Darwin during the voyage of the HMS Beagle. This is how Wikipedia summarises Floreana:

Floreana (Charles or Santa María) Island – It was named after Juan José Flores, the first President of Ecuador, during whose administration the government of Ecuador took possession of the archipelago. It is also called Santa Maria, after one of the caravels of Columbus. It has an area of 173 square km (67 sq mi) and a maximum elevation of 640 m (2,100 ft). It is one of the islands with the most interesting human history, and one of the earliest to be inhabited. Flamingos and green sea turtles nest (December to May) on this island. The patapegada or Galápagos petrel, a sea bird which spends most of its life away from land, is found here. At Post Office Bay, since the 19th century whalers kept a wooden barrel that served as post office so that mail could be picked up and delivered to their destinations, mainly Europe and the United States, by ships on their way home. At the “Devil’s Crown”, and underwater volcanic cone and coral formations are found.

There is a more extensive entry here.

Visitors to the island leave postcards for subsequent travellers to pick up. The idea is to find cards that are addressed to people who live near your own home, so that you can deliver the cards personally.

Floreana was the setting for a true life story that seems like something Agatha Christie might have written.  Read the Amazon blurb for My Evil Paradise Floreana:

German Doctor Frederick Ritter and his mistress Dore Strauch are an idealistic couple living on the remote island of Floreana in the Galapagos Archipelago. When an unconventional and seductive Austrian Baroness arrives, accompanied by her three lovers, their dreams of living a life in a paradise of solitude are shattered. Friedrich’s brave new world is violated by the baroness’s unsettling presence and he finds everyone else on the island struggling to resist the lure of her compelling sexual magnetism. While Dore tries to understand the changes taking place, the Baroness cruelly exploits and humiliates their lovers and all the other inhabitants. Then some new settlers appear: The Wittmer Family! Shortly after their onset the Baroness vanishs. What happened in Floreana remains one of the great murder mysteries of the 20th century. Is Margret Wittmer the murderer?

Wildlife seemed less populous than  other islands, but there were still plenty of photo ops.

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