With three modules down and two to go, we had over a week off to go island hopping for five days. We left San Cristóbal Thursday for Santa Cruz Island. We arrived there on Thursday evening and went to the night market with grumbling stomachs. Some friends and I grabbed a delicious $10 lobster dinner, something you’d never find back in the States! The next morning, we headed up to the highlands of Santa Cruz to check out Los Gemelos (“The Twins”), two enormous sinkholes. From there, we took a short ride to El Chato Ranch. It is a privately owned ranch that houses giant tortoises, which can roam freely between the property and Galápagos National Park. El Chato also has several hundred meters of underground lava tunnels! I’ll certainly be returning to check out more lava tunnels on Santa Cruz.
In the afternoon, we hopped on a boat headed for Isabela, the largest island in the Galápagos. Bright ‘n’ early the next morning, we walked to a marshland park site and another tortoise reserve. Then, we were off to Sierra Negra, an enormous volcano that overlooks Puerto Villamil. The dimensions of its caldera are about 7 by 9 kilometers and 14 kilometers around! The innards of the crater looked like a black extraterrestrial wasteland. After lunch and a nap, some of us went for an afternoon bike ride from town out to Muro de las Lágrimas. A penal colony on Isabela constructed this lava rock wall in 1946. Interestingly and sadly, the construction of this wall was solely to keep the 300 prisoners occupied. The next day was chilly and gray, but it didn’t stop us from taking a boat out to Los Tuneles. This is a popular snorkeling spot, where you can find underwater lava tunnels and many Blacktip sharks sleeping within several of the overhangs. It is also a popular Blue-Footed Boobie nesting and mating site. We were able to see several pairs doing their famous dance and mating rituals.
The weather cleared up becoming beautifully sunny around midday just before we began our 2-hour trip back to Santa Cruz. We boarded another boat destined for Bartolomé Island at 5:30 a.m. the next morning. This is arguably one of the most spectacular natural landscapes in the Galápagos Islands. This tiny islet off the coast of Santiago Island is one of the greatest forms of natural beauty that I’ve ever seen! It was really phenomenal. Afterwards, we landed on Santiago, where we snorkeled and hiked on the lava fields there. While snorkeling, I saw sea turtles, a blacktip shark, and even some Galápagos penguins. On our final day of the island hopping trip, we took a boat taxi to Las Grietas back on Santa Cruz. Las Grietas (“The Cracks”) is volcanic crevice with unbelievably clear brackish water that you can swim in. It is also a site that I hope to return to in the future. We took one of the roughest boat rides back to San Cristóbal, but were joined by hundreds of dolphins halfway through the trip. It was the perfect way to wrap up a trip of a lifetime!
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<div>Hi there all! My name Julian Garcia and I was proudly born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. I am in my senior year at Cornell University studying International Agriculture and Rural Development with interests in sustainable cropping systems and economic development. In my free time, you can find me hiking in the Adirondacks, spelunking 100 feet underground in a cave, trying to cook up something tasty, or reading a Hemingway novel. I hope you enjoy the blog!</div>