The Galápagos Islands Day 9

Thursday, April 14th, 2022

This morning we had a dry landing at Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island.

Academy Bay, Santa Cruz Island

Fernando pointed out our afternoon meeting place because we would finish the day with several hours of free time. It’s been almost a week since we’ve been in a town. Once we boarded the Tip Top V it was just the crew and us! It seemed strange to see roads, cars, people, restaurants and stores! The cabs here were white, double cabbed pickup trucks! They cost $1.50 if you were to take one!

Taxis were pickup trucks!

We boarded a small bus that took us into the Santa Cruz highlands. We had a walking field trip along a lush path that lead us to the twin pit craters.

On the way we passed by the Santa Cruz fish market at Puerto Ayora.

Fish Market

Walking the path to see the “Twins”.

Some cool fungi growing along our trail.

The twin craters were called Los Gemelos, the Spanish word for the twins! All around was the Scalesia forest and you could see them in and around the twin craters. These trees were also called giant daisy trees. They were endemic to the Galápagos Islands and were part of the Asteraceae family. These trees have the ability of adaptive radiation like Darwin’s finches.

These twin craters weren’t really craters. They were pits caused by the collapse of empty magma chambers. After we finished our walk, the bus met us and took us to a lava tube. We descended steps and then walked over some rocks that were loose. Lights were hanging so that gave us some light. We walked until we came to a portion of the tube that you had to crawl for about 8-10 feet. We were running out of clean shirts and couldn’t afford to get dirty! Part of our group crawled or planked their way through the approximately eight feet then they walked to the other end. The rest of us turned around and walked back the way we came.

The bus driver picked us up and drove us to the El Chato Reserve. This family owned reserve has about 30 acres in the highlands. It had green pastures, scalesia forest, and muddy pools. We saw giant tortoises all around as well as other birds.

We saw cattle egrets and a white-cheeked pintail which were the only ones we were able to catch with a camera.

We ate lunch at the reserve’s restaurant. We enjoyed a delicious meal and then we boarded the bus to head to the Charles Darwin Research Station. It was an international biological research station. It had scientists from all over the world. The station was dedicated to scientific research and currently managed 20 projects. They were currently working on a project preserving the Galápagos for future generations, the conservation of Giant Tortoises, mapping invasive plants, and more. Their website listed the current projects the research station was working on.

Some of the birds were finches that we observed as we walked around the Darwin Research Station.

We also saw the plant conservation that the station was doing and helped to provide the locals with plants that would help the area.

We visited “Lonesome George” who was the last male Pinta Island tortoise. After his death, he became a symbol of the necessity for conservation! His frozen body was sent to the American Museum of Natural History in New York where taxidermists preserved him. He was displayed in the Galápagos National Park Headquarters in his own building.

After touring the Charles Darwin Research Center museum we walked back into town and passed the bust of Charles Darwin.

On our walk back to town we stopped in many shops to look around. Our time in town went quickly and then it was time to meet at our designated spot. We took the dinghy back to our yacht.

This would be our last night on board. We had a farewell cocktail with the crew and the chef made a special dessert for our dinner.

Farewell Cocktail
Special Dessert

During our last briefing, Fernando began with a video that he put together of our week in the Galápagos Islands. It was awesome and we enjoyed it so much that we asked him to show it again! He also gave us a copy of the video and his pictures. It was so kind of him to do this for us!

Watching the video that Fernando put together!
Anchored in Academy Bay

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