Upon landing at Las Tintoreras near Isla Isabela; we were greeted by a marine iguana resting on the rock catching the first rays of the sun just after 6.30 am. There wer many marine iguanas clinging to the rocks and they varied in size from about 10 cm to over a metre including length of their tail. The recommended 2 metre rule from the wildlife was sometimes a challenging one to follow when they would be suddenly be on the path in front of you. We also came across a group of sea lions who were taking advantage of the shade in the mangroves to have a rest.
Low tide and the churning sands made the snorkelling off Puerto Villamil a larger challenge than anticipated. The image that I had in my head of walking off the beach till the depth that I could just push-off and snorkel did not take into account the number of large and small volcanic rocks and the waves that kept pushing you back onto shore. Watching a pelican catch fish in front of my eyes and diving blue-footed boobies made up for the disappointing snorkelling. Observing how territorial sea lions are about the benches by the beach was quite entertaining, getting too close to them would result in a strong hiss at the offending human.
The visit to the Arnoldo Tupiza Giant Tortoise breeding centre was very interesting, they keep the giant tortoises by sub-species according to the island they come from and aim to replicate the conditions on their home island by varying the vegetation and amount of shade. To replicate the conditions in the wild, the tortoises are only fed every 4 – 5 days, leading to fighting frenzy where the small tortoises would climb over others to get the food. The slow lumbering gait of the giant tortoises across the courtyards with the human paparazzi looking on was certainly a sight.
The broadwalk along Pozo Vilamail, was our first chance to see pink flamingos who were feeding in the shallows of the lagoon. While the flamingos are solitary animals, we spotted with ducks swimming around them. We managed to see 4 of the 314 flamingos in the Galapagos; which was a great for a short walk.
We were lucky enough to get a large turkey for the Christmas Eve dinner which had an Ecuadorian twist from the tree tomatoes which were also part of the meal. There was a touch of the festive spirit with a small Christmas tree and an Ecuadorian nativity scene from a couple of fellow passengers.
Travel date: 24 December 2018