Galapagos

 

 

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(Lesley writing)

We left Panama City, March11th, and set course for the Galapagos Islands. It was great to be out at sea again and to feel the  fresh air! Panama City was good for provisioning in that it was so cheap, but otherwise it was quite a dirty city. The first few days we had light winds and had to motor, but then the wind picked up a little and with 15 knots we were able to average 6-7 knots. We crossed the equator a day before arriving here and " Neptunès  wife" gave medals and gifts to all new southern -hemisphere sailors.

At 00 degrees 00 minutes Neptune's Wife appeared onboard

The trip took 6 days and we approached Santa Cruz in the morning, keeping a sharp lookout for any wildlife. The first visitors were some sea-lions and then a hammerhead shark swimming alongside the boat. On the cliffs we could see many birds nesting and sea-lions on the beaches. Most boats clear in at Puerto Ayora, so we were very happy to recognise some other boats from Panama. We anchored in the bay and went ashore to stretch our legs and get a bite to eat. There were sea-lions sunning themselves on many of the fishing boats and we managed to get some funny photos. The fish market was a sight to see with a begging seal and pelicans crowding around the fisherman.

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Our first excursion took us to the Charles Darwin Research Station, where we were able to see the giant tortoises up close. The enclosures were made so that you could walk in and out of gates and along wooden walkways. Here they capture, breed and release the tortoises back into the wild. The baby tortoises have a number printed on the shell, and this tells which year they were born and which island they come from. Each island has its own type of tortoise and this is recognised by the shape and pattern on the shell. We saw "Lonesome George" the oldest remaining tortoise from Pinta Island. He was very large and weighs about 250kg.

     

Tortuga Bay is a lovely, long beach just out of town and about a 40 min walk on a cobbled path. The waves break continously and its a favourite surf spot for locals. The kids spent a few days bogey boarding and surfing and Tom gave them some lessons on his board. The sand was extremely fine and we are still sweeping sand off the boat where it has collected in all corners.

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The next excursion was into the "highlands" where we saw the giant tortoises in their natural habitat at "El Rancho" , a privately owned farm. We walked through the bush and found tortoises eating and drinking at the water holes. In the cafe there was a large carapace and Colin couldn't resist trying it on his back.

   

The lava tunnels run throughout the island and even down to the sea. You are able to walk through some of them and they are lit  with electric lights .This one was nearly a kilometre long. At one point we had to climb under a small opening and we were all covered in mud as it was quite damp and slippery inside.

The day trips go to many of the surrounding islands, so we chose to visit North Seymour, which is a haven for wildlife. After taking a boat out to the island, we were shown around by a guide who pointed out the different birds and reptiles . The Frigate birds and Blue footed Boobys nest here and  we were able to get very close to them. The Marine iguanas were clinging to each other for warmth and we even spotted a couple of land iguanas, which are very different in colour and size. The sea-lions were especially tame and you could almost touch them ( although you are not allowed to touch any of the animals).

     

We leave now for the Marquesas, but are very grateful for being able to experience this, the "Enchanted Islands"

 

 

This site was last updated 04/17/07