W. Eric Faber
Sat 28 Feb 2015 18:33
Isla Santa Cruz (Galapagos)
Next Destination: Hiva Oa, French Polynesia
The sail to Santa Cruz was a slow one with little wind. Having left San Cristobal at 7am last Monday, we did not make Puerto Ayora in the Isla of Santa Cruz until 5pm to cover just 45 miles. There are no marinas in the Galapagos and all boats anchor off the coast and conduct their business on land by using water taxis. Tuesday morning we taxied ashore and booked a 3-day trip to Isla Isabela, where we would be treated to the best there is to see in the Galapagos, famous for its unique fauna and flora. Wednesday morning at 7am the ferry, propelled by two huge Yamaha outboards, covered the 40 miles to Puerto Villamil in Isla Isabela in just two hours. Our first tour was a walk in an area that is popular with the iguanas. It was the nesting season and the females were busily digging safe dens for their eggs to hatch. The iguanas were not afraid of us and you could study them at close quarters, a primeval-looking species with a ridge of short spines from crest to half way down their backs. They have an awkward gait that limits the speed at which they walk and swim. In the wetlands we saw flamingoes; we visited a tortoise re-generation centre and observed the white fin-tipped reef sharks (tintoreras) from a safe distance above, although we were told they are only interested in small fish and algae.
Several snorkelling adventures on the first and second day in different locations introduced us to a huge variety of multi-coloured tropical fish and Julia was in her element with her GoPro firmly affixed to her head and filming the best of the pelagic fauna. On Friday morning at 7.30am we were in a small group of 8 to walk 5 miles to and around one of the craters that was last active in 2005. Several locations were found where the heat was indicative of ongoing low-scale volcanic activity. The landscape of cinders was quite arduous to the feet and leg muscles, but our return walk was made easier by millions of years of erosion and natural forces to provide a perceptible transition from cinders to soil, luscious vegetation, bird and insect life. Much has been written about how man in the past through ignorance and greed destroyed flora and fauna that are unique to the Galapagos islands and how strenuous efforts are now being made to eradicate foreign species in order to return to the natural state that Darwin observed and so eulogised in his “Origin of Species”.