Galapagos - Santa Cruz
Trip Start Oct 29, 2011
48Trip End Jun 01, 2012
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I am going to include quite a bit of factual information in here (it just means Mum can answer even more questions on Eggheads). Pretty all of it I've looked up on t’internet since my return. On the trip we did have a fully qualified naturalist with us (not the naked on a beach type), called Efrain
The Galapagos are an isolated group of volcanic islands located in the Pacific Ocean, roughly 1000km off the coast of Ecuador, straddling the equator.and about 90 degrees west of Greenwich.
The archipelago encompasses over 50 islands of volcanic origin that are spread out over an area of about 4500 sq. kms. The oldest of these is not more than 2.4 million years old, a baby in geological terms. The islands are among the most volcanically active group of islands in the world.
The Galapagos were officially discovered in 1535 when the then Bishop of Panama, Fray Tomas de Berlanga and his ship were becalmed and carried out to the islands. In 1570 the islands first officially appeared on a map and were called the "Insulae de los Galopegos" (Islands of the Tortoises). Isla Isabela is the largest island within the archipelago and there are 12 major islands and 12 smallers ones
The most famous visitor to the Galapagos was Charles Darwin, aboard the HMS Beagle, arriving in 1835. Darwin stayed for 5 weeks, making notes and collecting specimens that provided evidence for his theory of evolution. In reality he spent most of his time on the island San Salvador (Santiago) observing and eating tortoises.
So on the Wednesday we were up early as we had a flight to catch. I also had to get up even earlier in an attempt to get the blog up-to-date before I headed off (leaving my homework to the last minute again!). So we had a 35 minute hop to Guayaquill, followed by an 1hr 30mins flight to Baltra. The plane food was my worst nightmare. For some reason they had decided the 7 of us who were with Exodus were vegetarian and I had a salad of lettuce, mushrooms, asparagus and olives. I also had the joy of sitting next to David and Nicki. They are both lovely but David spend the entire flight talking about statistics from plane crashes and which types of airbus planes he has flown on. When we landed we were hoarded onto a clapped out bus and made to stand in the aisle with all our luggage. Then we had a bizarre ferry crossing to Santa Cruz Island before being put onto a coach.
So finally we were ready to head out and see our first Galapagos wildlife – the famous giant tortoises
So the tortoise is the most recognized symbol of the Galapagos. The word Galapagos is Spanish for saddle; referring to the shape of the Galapagos tortoise shell. With weights over 500 lbs (250 kg) and shells measuring 59 inches (150 cm) Galapagos Tortoises are among the largest on earth. These land-based turtles are slow moving and known for their long life span of more than 150 years.
The tortoise played an important role in the Theory of Evolution. When Charles Darwin visited the Galapagos Islands, the vice-governor of the Islands told him that he could identify what island the tortoise was from simply by looking at him because they all had slightly different characteristics.
Naturalists believe tortoises arrived in the islands clinging to a piece of driftwood (Titantic spring to mind anyone?) from a river mouth along the Pacific Coast
Then we headed into the town (yes town!) of Puerto Ayora. Caroline and I were most despondent by all of this as this is so not what we were expecting. Where was the volcanic rock?, iguana’s? cacti?, sea lions? This wasn’t how it looked on the DVD. It turns out (because I hadn’t actually read Lonely Planet ) that the island of Santa Cruz is the most developed of the islands with a population of 15 000 people and much of the island is given over to farming
There was also meant to be Margaret who was booked with Exodus, but she did not turn up. This in the end turned out very well for me as I got a cabin to myself. The cabin’s are what you would describe as compact (they are en-suite though), and all the couples were having problems with the amount of space they had. I’m not too sure how me and Margaret would have coped at all. So basically from this point our week on the boat began.