Day 4 - October 15, 2013 - San Cristobal Island
By Benjamin Ayala, Naturalist
Weather: Mostly Cloudy
Air Temperature: 21ºC
Pressure: 937 hPa
Wind: 6 knots
I woke up this morning with Silver Galapagos closing in onto the most eastern end of the Galapagos Archipelago. Once the anchor had been set and after a quick breakfast, I got ready to disembark at a beautiful olivine sand beach at “Punta Pitt”.
This highly eroded volcanic ash cone named after one William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, allows for the only chance of hiking through canyons formed throughout thousands of years during the sometimes intense rainfall of the wet season of the Galapagos Islands.
After a wet landing and getting my shoes back on, I walked carefully so to not wake up resting Sea Lions that densely populated the beach this morning. Soon we would be working on the ascend through the canyon until we reached an altitude of some 50 meters at which we took a moment to take in the early morning scenery. The very characteristic south eastern breeze of the dry season could be felt throughout the walk as we followed the winding trail which would eventually lead to an exposed plateau from which many seabirds can be observed while they make the journey from and to their nesting sites onto the open ocean.
We reach the end of the trail as we literally run out of island being reminded of our location by a lone orange marker of the Ecuadorian Oceanographic Institute beyond which the open ocean will extend for almost 1000 km all the way to the western coast of South America and the Ecuadorian Mainland.
Despite this being the first cloudy morning of this voyage, little did the cloud cover do to slow down the characteristic early morning activity of the local fauna. While we started walking back to the beachhead plenty of land birds such as Ground Darwin Finches and unique reptiles such as San Cristobal Lava Lizards where busy at feeding both on the bushes and trees as well as on the ground.
Once back on the ship I got ready for snorkeling and as soon as I plunged into the waters of the bay just of the beach at which we had previously disembarked, Galapagos Sea Lion pups came to greet me leaving me for short periods of time just to check on the big bull that patrolled the area.
Later at noon, while sailing south along the western coast of San Cristobal Island, we had lunch.
After an early morning, the activity of the afternoon began a bit later than usual giving the guests some extra time before leaving for a zodiac ride from our anchorage at the shores of Frigate Bird Hill to my home port and political capital of the Galapagos, Baquerizo Moreno Port.
After a short bus ride, a stroll along a very exposed coast line at the very south western end of the island led to “La Loberia”, a popular resting spot and breeding colony to the endemic Galapagos Sea Lion. Some of our more adventurous explorers continued by a rocky trail looking for some of the largest Marine Iguanas of this end of the archipelago as they retreated from the cold waters after their last foraging trip of the day into the wave beaten rocky bottom of the shores.
As the equatorial sun marks the beginning of the end of another good day in this evolving paradise with rays of orange light that break through the thick clouds of the late afternoon, we make our way back to the ship while commenting on the highlights of the day, the sadness of the coming end of a holiday to some guests who are leaving us tomorrow and the guessing of what a new day might bring to those who will join us on yet another adventure here in the Enchanted Islands.
From the different viewpoints I saw the sunset in the opposite side of the town with beautiful colors, that was so romantic coming to the end of another special and different day in this paradise.
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