Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Day 13 - Galapagos Islands!

We made it to the Galapagos Islands!!!

We have a new guide for today, her name is Pricilla, and she was very knowledgeable of the islands (and our bus was MUCH smaller!)

Currently, we are on Santa Cruz Island. On the way back from the airport (we had a 1 hour 40 min flight from Guayaquil into Balta Island, then took a ferry to Santa Cruz), we saw twin magma chambers that caved in about 600,000 years ago. We then went to a ranch called Rancho el Manzanillo, where they have a real cattle ranch, but since the tortoises have free range on the entire island, they roam all around the ranch. We walked in the rain on some paths to see the tortuga (tortoise in Spanish), then ate lunch at the restaurant on the Ranch.

After lunch, we drove to the Hotel Red Booby to check in. We got our rooms, then walked to the Charles Darwin Research Station about 20 minutes away. We learned about the tortoises - there are 10 different species living on the islands, when there used to be 14. I got the number of a research scientist at the Station, so hopefully I will be able to contact her about setting up a time we can actually see the research labs while we are on this island.  We saw land iguanas, native and endemic plants, many saddle--back and dome carapaces on different species of tortoises, as well as the breeding program. 

 At this point, our guide left us for the remainder of the day (at around 4:00). Supper was at 7:00 (we are now 2 hours behind EST, like "Mountain time" in the US). Some sat at the hotel to relax, others went for some walks to do some souvenir shopping and get snacks. Others tried to find and ATM machine that would take their card (and yes - they were all successful!)  We met back at the Hotel Red Booby to have supper, which was ready early. Not much else going on today, but tomorrow we need to be ready to go at 7:00am. Wow - that is early, but we are being picked up by the a local environmental agency (Fundar) to help with a local service project.

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