Greetings from the crew of Libeccio,
Once again we must send our apologies for being tardy on our updates. We get busy and before you know it you are almost 3 days into a passage to the Marquesas and you realise that you missed commenting on two of the Galapagos islands. I am sure you can relate.
This is going to be a bit long, so either hit "like" now and move on or grab a coffee!
I think we last mentioned we had just arrived at Isla Isabella, following a dramatic and very brave action by the good ship Libeccio to transfer emergency fuel to our friends Denis and Briggitte on Pret Aixte. No movie offers have yet been received but it must be due to our agent negotiating the best deal and not due to the fact that it wasn't that brave nor dangerous.
We have been looking forward to Isabela as friends who have been to the Galapagos say that it is the jewel of the islands and not as busy as the other two main islands. As we explored the island we have come to the same conclusion. Where is lacks in the mod-con of Santa Cruz, it more than makes up on the diversity of activities and a pleasant laid back feel. This vibe was enhanced by the fact that the main street is dirt. Apparently, it is in the process of being resurfaced but there were no signs of any such activity. Shall we say, work in progress. Equally amusing was the fact that the only person with the permit to offer SCUBA diving trips was not offering trips. As is the case in all of the Galapagos, you are not permitted to just wander around aimlessly, so we took three tours: Las Tintoreas, Los Tuneles and the volcano (for those of you that know Jane, we will never miss an opportunity to visit anything related to volcanoes!).
As it turned out, Las Tintoreas was the area of lava rock that surrounded our anchorage. It was also the closest we came to living a David Attenborough special: on the land we got some insight into the life of the many marine iguanas and red crabs; in the water we saw white tipped reef sharks, rays and huge turtles and then on both land and shore, we encountered sea lions and the cutest penguins you will have ever seen (and tried to slip in your pocket to take home-- just kidding). For some strange reason, the real star of the show was the blue footed boobie. One of three varieties of boobies on the islands, it seems that the blue footed one has captured the hearts of the tourists (right Val S?)
For you budding volcanologists, you are all aware that the second largest caldera the world exists on Isabela. So, away we went. After the 45 min walk up the path to the top of the crater, we were treated with a panorama of this caldera- it was, unsurprisingly massive. Our guide was able to use this crater as a means to explain the origination of the Galapagos, why the different islands are shaped the way they are and how even more islands are under construction now. All to do with hot spot on the bottom of the ocean and a geologic plate that is on the move so that the hot spot is spilling molten rock as it moves along. These spills are in fact volcanoes and they make the islands that we see today.
Our tour to tuneles was perhaps the highlight. It involved a 40 min boat right along the southern coast to an area where the hot magma had arrived at the sea and created a series of channels and tunnels as it cooled. This makes a great home for wild life and a very cool place to snorkle. There were two stops and although we saw plenty of white tipped reef sharks and turtles, perhaps the highlight was the sole sea-horse. It was hanging on to one of the root of the mangrove tree and was a treat to see. The second stop was described by one of our fellow yachties as the most beautiful snorkeling spots they had ever been. And it is easy to see why- very clear water in a protected maze of channels that are connected by tunnels that you can snorkel through. Add to this, lots of sea life and you have a perfect spot for snorkeling. The highlight for me was something that wasn't onn the tour. On our way to Los Tuneles we had come across pockets of large manta rays feeding on the surface. Our guide had jumped overboard to get some vitage. hese rays were double his size, if not more. Apparently, Jane had mentioned to the guide that I would love to do the same and somehow convi me to put on my snorkeling gear and jump overboard. It was pretty exhilarating to say the least- offshore, i the water with such big animals. To see them I had to swim as fast as my little legs would propel me and then I would get a glimpse as they powered by. Amazing. Thanks Jane.
Isabella's appeal did not stop there, we visited a land tortoise breeding center- there is a huge effort on all the islands to protect their species. Add to this, a flock of very pink flamingos, a mix of funnky beach bars and happy hours with the rest of the rally and you will hopefully understand why we are fully paid up members of the "we love Isabela" club. T-shirts to follow.