Rundown: Spend a week tailing giant tortoises, hanging with hammerheads sharks, and bonding with blue-footed boobies in Darwin's very own... the Galapagos!
SANTA CRUZ ISLAND
Took our leave of absence from school in the increasing chill of Chilean winter (U.S. summer) and flew to Ecuador, then a six hundred miles into the Pacific to reach the Galapagos Islands.
Stayed in Puerto Ayora, a town on the most populous island, Santa Cruz.
Stayed in a cute hotel on Santa Cruz that appeared to have been designed by Dr. Seuss. Great winding stairways and arched walk-throughs... no Whos though.
Puerto Ayora had a tropical port feel, lots of fishing boats and pelicans in the sea breeze.
Lots of wild life... even right in town! The fishermen brought their catch in every day to the docks and cleaned their fish right there. Naturally all manner of interested parties showed up!
Our first major stop in the islands... to see the giant tortoises!
Amazing to watch them drag their heavy, broad shells around. Prehistoric looking creatures.
The truly amazing thing about the island was how close you could get to the wildlife. I love this guy's scaly arms. When they feel threatened they pull their heads in and cover their faces with their protective arms. Pretty neat.
Although slow and awkward they are majestic creatures at times. Pretty amazing.
Spent some time on tortoise breeding centers where they raise young tortoises until they are ready to be reintroduced into the wild. Cute little guy.
The tortoises were so docile and slow moving. The lifestyle sat well with me... I even thought about trying it out myself... I think I'd need to crawl in and then gain a few hundred pounds to fill up the inside.
NORTH SEYMOUR ISLAND
The next day we took a boat out to a different island called North Seymour to check out the wildlife. Upon our arrival we found some wildlife waiting in the water for us! It was a bit disconcerting to get in the tiny dinghy for the transit to shore knowing that the dinghy wasn't the biggest thing swimming around!
The truly amazing part about the islands is the proximity of the wildlife. The animals have evolved without predators (aside from those in the water above), so they are unconcerned with people, giving use the opportunity to get up close and personal. Almost stepped on this little guy!