Day 7 - October 25, 2013 - San Cristobal Island
By Dries Degel, Naturalist
Weather: Cloudy and raining
Air Temperature: 22ºC
Pressure: 961 hPa
Wind: 4 knots
This morning I woke up in the beautiful Academy bay in Puerto Ayora Town, Santa Cruz island. It was a cloudy morning when I disembarked and I took the bus to the highlands.
I stopped at the pit craters at 188 feets of elevation, where I observed a kind of rain forest called the scalesia zone. The dominant trees are the scalesia pedunculata, there are also ferns, orchids, liverworts, liquens, and moss. The vegetation is green and lush, permanently all year around, quite different landscape than the arid lowland.
There are two sinkholes or pit craters located at both sides of the main road, very deep and very large. I saw different finches at least four species and Galapagos flycatchers.
Later I went with the bus on a 20 minutes ride arriving to the limit between the national park area and the farming areas called Tortuga crossing, there are many giant tortoises in the wild, big males, and females wandering around and I found many more wallowing in the mud in a natural pond.
I also walked into a lava tunnel with some facilities as a handrail, steps, and lights illuminating the inside. It was comfortable and a nice visit learning about the volcanic formations of oceanic islands. In summary it was a very special morning.
In the afternoon I disembarked on the national park dock, the visit was to the famous Charles Darwin research centre, but specifically the breeding centre of the giant tortoises, a place with history value because there begun the program of restoring the population of giant tortoises in different islands.
I walked on an easy path and saw baby tortoises from different islands in pens separated in subspecies. I also found the corral of lonesome George, and there were tortoises from the saddlebacks, intermediates, and dome shape. There were land iguanas in captivity to learn about the repatriation of this amazing and endemic creatures.
After the visit I walked along the main street of Puerto Ayora in which there were so many different boutiques and shops offering good prices and a lot of souvenirs like t-shirts, handcrafts, books, post cards, and more. People were very kind, and seemed to be very involved in tourism.
I waited in the municipal dock in order to come back on board of the ship, and when I was going in the Zodiac, it was beautiful to see Academy bay with sailing ships and fishing boats all together moving and oscillating with the wind, swells, and currents. I felt so happy with the sensation of the breeze in my face and the amazing and fun day coming to an end.
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