Monday, September 9, 2013

Day 3 Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos

IThis morning started with a flight on LAN Airlines to the Baltra airport on Santa Cruz island in the Galapagos. Once at the airport we had a long process to go through. We first had to register and pay a $10 fee, then our bags had to be checked for any fruits or nuts that could grow on the island, then bring our bags to be checked for the flight, then finally we went through security. LAN always has nice plane with comfy leather seats. The flight was a quick 2 hours though the guy on the side of me was a bit camera crazy, taking pictures out the window incessantly. 

The first view of the Galapagos from the plane fits the typical description of a desolate uninhabitable land reminiscent of the surface of Mars or the moon. At first look it seem a wonder how any animals could survive here. 

The Baltra airport is very small but modern. We had to get our bags inspected again and pay another fee of $100 to enter the national park.

As luck would have it, we met another American, John from San Francisco, while waiting for a bus to take us to the channel we had to cross to get to Santa Cruz. This first bus was free, then the ferry across the strait was $0.80 each. When we got off the ferry I decided to find John and see if he wanted to share a cab so we could split the cost. When planning the trip I had wanted to check out the highlands on my way from the airport to Puerto Ayora, but was worried about the safety of our bags. It turns out that our cab driver was willing to take us for a bit extra dinero and claimed that there is no stealing on the island. So we took a chance went for it. We stopped at Los Gemelos (the twins), a pair of volcanic craters, then the driver took us to Rancho Primicias where a lot of giant galapagos tortoises call home, and finally, we explored a lava tunnel. The tortoises were very cute, but didn't seem to like when we got close. It was very common for them to growl or hide their heads in their shells and we never even got that close. We saw at least a few different types of tortoises, but since we didn't have a guide I don't know which was which type. 

The lava tunnel was cool, but the fact that it has lights strung throughout the tunnels made it seem like a tourist trap. There was a cool section where we had to crawl to get through, but over all, I would say there are better tunnels/caves to explore.

We then headed down to Puerto Ayora and John was dropped off first at his hotel and then we were dropped off at the water taxi dock where we grabbed a ride to our home for the next two nights, Hotel Angermeyer. 

After checking in, we took the water taxi back to town and walk around. We ended bumping into John getting a town tour from his hotel manager and we joined them. The we spend a lot of the afternoon trying to find tours we wanted to do for tomorrow. We couldn't decide, so the decision was put off until after dinner. We went to a street that is closed down at night and the many small local eateries spread out there chairs and tables into the road. They all had big grills at the front of the restaurants and serve up cheap, delicious food. 

We end up spending a lot of time with John while he was on the island and chose to do a day trip together to Kicker Rock and Los loberas beach near San Cristobel.

And I leave you for today with this cute little bird that helped me eat breakfast.