Galapagos Journals: Giant Tortoises Mating!

John from Antarctica Bound is currently visiting the Galapagos Islands, taking in the experience and capturing the wildlife on camera. During patchy periods of internet connection he is sending back extracts from his diary and some of the fantastic pics he’s managed to snap. It’s not quite real-time, but this is as close to the action as we can get….

galapagos tortoise

Extract from John’s journal:

Longish flight up from Santiago to Quito – 5hr 30min, overnight at a hotel about 20 minutes from the airport and back for a 06.55 flight to Baltra via Guayaquil.

Have parted form Simon now whilst he does a different itinerary in the islands. The next part of the adventure starts…Met at the airport on Baltra Island and went down to the quay on a battered old bus and then transferred on to an equally old launch for the short crossing to Santa Cruz Island. My driver, Rafael, then took me up to the Safari Eco Lodge up in the hills. I was expecting sunshine, but it is a case of “you should have been here last week, it was really sunny!”. November is low season and is part of the year when there is a lot of cloud over the islands brought in by the Humboldt Current. It is warm and clammy at sea level and quite cool here up in the hills at over 450m, especially when the cloud descends.

The Eco Lodge is a super place, fashioned after similar luxury lodges in Africa, with en-suite tents on platforms, each with deck and views across country to the Pacific. There is a small infinity pool and a large and airy central building with dining area and lounge with open fireplace. I had a superb lunch soon after arriving and am now looking forward to dinner!

This afternoon, I went out with Rafael, who, incidentally, speaks not a word of English, so I really have had to drag my limited Spanish back to the front of my mind! He took me to a reserve, where there are loads of giant tortoises, some probably over 100 years old and, guess what (for those who have been following my travels and read about the elephant seals on my first day in the Falklands), I watched another pair mating, this time with lots of loud groaning and blowing from the very large male. Then on to see some lava tunnels and massive craters caused when other emptied lava caverns collapsed, all millennia ago.

There are lots of birds around and I have seen Galapagos finch and duck and others I need to look up. We then went down to a beautiful sandy beach where there was a lagoon with some quite small flamingoes feeding. On the beach there were sandpipers and in the surf, pelicans diving into the bay, whilst above, a frigate bird circled.i was just enjoying the scene, when I saw my first iguana; it just emerged from the surf, walked along the sand and disappeared into the black, igneous rocks. Not a bad start to my time on the Galapagos…

galapagos iguana

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