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Volcanoes, Frigate Birds and Giant Tortoises

The Galapagos World ARC tour in San Cristobal ran in small groups for 4 days, from Puerto Baquerizo, delivered by our very knowledgeable guide, José. It is very much an introduction to the islands, with participants having booked onto a wide variety of other trips and tours for the rest of their time here. The introduction really started as soon as boats dropped anchor, when the local sealions voiced their welcome and swam over to the boats for a tour of inspection. Upon approaching the shore, crew could start to pick out the vivid reds and oranges of Sally Lightfoot crabs, dotted around the rocks, and the keenest eyes could spot the odd rock-coloured marine iguana.

At 0815 the morning of the tour, a bus rolled round to the Muelle Acuario dock to pick up our crews, who all arrived via ‘taxi acuático’ from their yachts, sitting at anchor in the bay. The bus struggled up the hills and into the highlands of San Cristobal, where the air temperature dropped noticeably and a gentle breeze cooled the skin. This was much appreciated, as the first stop was to be a short walk up an extinct volcano. Every now and again, José would stop us to explain all kinds of things, from finches and frigate birds to moss and lichen with phenomenal scientific accuracy!

The crater contained a lake, and beyond it, views towards Punta Pitt and the north and south coastlines of the island. Following a walk around the crater rim with the frigate birds circling overhead, we enjoyed the downhill stretch back to the bus, and hopped back on to the Galapaguera Cerró de Colorado. This is a tortoise breeding centre, designed to help repopulate the islands to pre-human settlement levels. We saw many giant tortoises, and some not so giant tortoises - the baby ‘giant’ tortoises are very cute. José, again, knew a great deal about the breeding process, breeding cycle and the different species of Galapagos tortoise.

Just when people were starting to become a little peckish, José whipped out some very welcome empanadas, sweet snacks and cold water to feed the troops, and we weaved down through the cacti and miconia from the tortoise centre to Puerto Chino bay, a beautiful white sand beach with turquoise water, green turtles in the sea and blue-footed boobies sitting on the rocks. Just the trick to cool down before a trip back to town for lunch.

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