Thursday: Punta Moreno – Navigation to Puerto Villamil with Whale watching (24/11)
At Punta Moreno we visited a relatively young lava field -approx. 10 000 years old. Here the gradual inhabitation by spiders, birds and flora can be witnessed.
Lagunas had formed with a green borders of plants. Different types of lava flows were visible. 3 different cacti, each with a population of ants that help in the plant’s pollination. We saw spiders inhabitating the cracks, Darwin daisies, silk plants and a type of sunflower. On the laguna we observed Bahama ducks and Moorhen, Flamingo, Galapagos Martin and Darwin finches.
As the ship continued southwards along Isla Isabela we saw interesting landscapes, small craters in front of Volcán Cerro Azul and Volcán Sierra Negra which last errupted 2005. Not far from us 3 Orcas fished. Before dark we reached Puerto Villamil, a small harbour tricky to enter during darkness.
Friday: Puerto Villamil: Volcán Sierra Negra: Hike to the Crater -Tortoise Breeding Center of Villamil (25/11)
Per bus we travelled closer to the Volcán Sierra Negra and reached the crater on foot after approx. 1 hour walking. Flowers, Butterflies, Guava trees and lush green vegetation -quite different to the other areas we had visited so far in Galápagos. In 2005 the volcano errupted and the 13km diameter caldera filled approx 30% with fresh lava.
After 3 hours we were back in Puerto Villamil and visited the local Darwin breeding station for different land tortoises, all from the various areas of Isla Isabela.
On our walk back we saw flamingos, stilts, Bahama ducks and Moorhen.
Charles Darwin visited the islands aboard the HMS Beagle in 1835 for 5 weeks. During this time his observation lead to the theory of Evolution by Natural Selection – particularly sparked off by the fact that the tortoises on each island had developed in a very distinct way to survive on the different available food sources.
Visiting the local church was special – it is decorated in themes from the islands and not in the normal way.
Back at the ship our Captain William made an exception and allowed a swim in the harbour area -refreshing after a hot and interesting day. At our special wish the Captain and chef managed to source local Lobster in the harbour and we sat down for a very special dinner.
Saturday: Floreana: Punta Comorant – Corona del Diablo – Post Office Bay -Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz) (26/11)
The ship departed at midnight and we reached the island Floreana early in the morning. Punta Comorant was our land excursion and on the beach we saw rays sucking worms from the sand in shallow water. A snorkelling outing followed at Corona del Diablo and we drifted through the rocks watching the abundant sea life.
Back on board we soon departed to Post Office Bay where already in the olden days ships stopped to drop and pick up mail – the only way of communicating with Europe and North America at the time. It was one of the islands that was inhabitated very early on due to the source of fresh water.
We looked through the mail of the barrel mailbox and selected some post cards we would be able to drop off or mail in Argentina and left some cards for friends and family in South Africa to see how well the post service still functions ( by the way our postcard arrived in Cape Town after 4 months, unfortunately we do not know who collected it in Galápagos).
After lunch we proceeded back to Puerto Ayora, where the ship needed to replenish and we had some time in the town. Towards evening we were back on board for the farewell dinner which Francisco the chef had prepared and which featured Bacaláo (Seabass), the tables again decorated with vegetable art.
Sunday: Daphne Mayor (Panoramic) – Baltra (27/11)
Our last day started very early with a panoramic circumnavigation of Daphne island, well-known through the 40 year long research by scientists Peter and Rosemary Grant, observing the changes/evolution of finches in Galapagos.
Some Brown Pelicans gave us a special display of their fishing skills – with brown Noddy terns frequently sitting on their heads hoping for a small fish to escape.
By 9:45am our flight left Baltra to Quito, where we took a bus first to Carcelen bus terminal, and from there 2.5 hrs by long distance bus to Ibarra and then a taxi back to Finca Sommerwind- all this for US$ 7 per person.
This post covers 23th – 27th November 2016