After our penguin sighting of yesterday morning, we figured we were ready for more exploring. We set off on long walk (okay, it only felt long due to the heat but in reality, we think it was about 5 kms roundtrip) to go to the Centro de Crianza, the Tortoise Breeding Center here on Isabela. There is a wonderful boardwalk that winds past a few pozos (new Spanish word - pools) and through the arid landscape (Ron had read somewhere that not a few people have wandered away, and have gotten lost. They then ended up dead.) This place is covered in hardened lava flows, and the island has no natural water sources, other than what falls during the rainy season. So it was a surprise that we saw these pools and came across the most beautiful coral coloured flamingos.
Another 10 minutes later, and we came to the breeding center. Suffice it to say that we think there is no danger of extinction of the 5 species of Galapagos Tortoises. We must have seen several hundred (maybe more), in all ages, which according to the literature all came from 4 sets of breeding adults. Looked pretty prolific to us.
Back to the beach where we stumbled, almost literally, across another 25,000 +/- marine iguanas, also in various shapes and sizes. There were some big papas roaming around, keeping an eye on the myriad offspring. They were all piled up, and didn't seem to care who's shoulders they stepped on on their way to the top of the heap. Sounds like most of the western world - we have not evolved very far from the our ancestors, the iguanas.
This is the high season here, and although everyone around the world knows about the Galapagos Islands, this place was empty. Not a soul around, which suits us perfectly, but it seems crazy that as well known as these islands are, so far we've seen only 4 boats here in the three days since arrival, with a total of perhaps 40 people. We'd read that the authorities, by the number of flights they allow to land on Baltra and Cristobal can control the number of visitors, and we frankly feel the numbers are just right. We haven't been to the most populated island, Santa Cruz, but as the vast majority of the boats depart from there, we figure it is probably the most lively. For us here, this Darwinian peace is perfect.
We have some hysterical pictures of the wildlife - unfortunately, until we get our internet signal sorted, you'll have to settle for these words.....or start your travel plans, and come out here to see it all for yourself.
Total costs so far, other than our initial $1085 Autografo, (not per person)
San Cristobal (arrived 1/1/15, departed 1/16/15)
Tour to Leon Dormido - $84
Taxi tour of the island - $30
Various fruits/vegies - ~$100
Top up of 17 gallons diesel - $54
Departure Zarpe - $15
Water taxi during stay - ~$30
One dinner out - $30
Various beers/water - ~$20
Total - ~$363