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Bella Isabela

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Santa Cruz

Visiting Galapagos – Isabela – Penguins and Marine turtles – Puerto Ayora (Map this!)

When we realized how expensive Galapagos was going to be we made a crucial decision to stay in Galapagos as long as possible, since it is unlikely we will be able to return. So we booked ourselves on a short 5 day cruise to the farthest islands and decided to explore the closer ones ourselves. This is how we found ourselves in Isabela.

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Marine iguanas

Isabela looks like what Puerto Ayora (a rather ugly little town) might have been a few years ago. Spread out over a small area, it has with no paved roads and a dusty little town plaza surrounded by local restaurants serving good food. In the plaza, you will probably find the captain of the boat you just arrived in chatting with some friends. You meet your travel agent bicycling to work; she stops to chat with you for a few minutes about Fabricio, who just took you on a spectacular tour where you snorkelled with a swarm of penguins and saw a white tipped reef shark lazily swim by.

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Galapagos Penguin

Sea Lion

What a beautiful place Isabela is. Our hotel was right on the beach, with a balcony from where you could watch the soaring frigate birds who stay up in the air with hardly a flap of their wings, flocks of blue footed boobies looking for sardines, shore birds whee-wheeing and pecking for food on the beach. And yes, of course, hundreds of marine iguanas. Fabricio, the afore-mentioned boatman, took us to a magical place called Los Tunneles. Here we saw lava tunnels in the sea where white tipped reef sharks come to rest and marine turtles swim majestically by. One day we took a peaceful walk to the Charles Darwin research center where Shreesh got to assist the scientist retrieve a giant tortiose egg from its nest in the ground for incubation.

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Los Tunneles

Wading Bird

I have a theory that tourism at Galapagos started with the capital at San Cristobal until people realized that Santa Cruz island was more centrally located to the other islands. And so the little town of Puerto Ayora grew to the eyesore it is today. (The wild Santa Cruz, however, with its Tortuga Bay beach, its volcanic highlands area and the dry Baltra area up north is beautiful). Maybe one day Isabela will be spoilt too. I am only glad that we visited before that could happen.

3 Responses to “Bella Isabela”

  1. shanta auntie says:

    Where are the days 295-299? Islands are how small in sqmiles? Nice place to be away from all the civilization and it’s problems.

  2. suhasini taskar says:

    Beautiful pictures of Neena and Shreesh. Interesting to see penguins on a warm island like Isabela. Did you see any Hammer Head sharks? Are there many tourists in your tour group?
    How did you like the Ship?

  3. Shreesh says:

    Shanta Auntie,

    heh,heh you caught me! We forgot to mark a GPS point in Pto. Ayora, hence the discrepancy. The uninhabited islands we have visited so far are quite small, as in they can be easily walked across, if it weren’t for the brush. The inhabited ones are quite a bit larger and you need a car. Isabela is the largest, Santa Cruz (where Pto. Ayora is) can be driven across in about 45 minutes.

    The penguins seem to be able to tolerate the heat and thrive. We have not seen any hammerheads yet :(, but hopefully we will! The number of tourists varies, sometimes it is just us two, other times there have been as many as eight other people. We have not left for our cruise yet, this happens tomorrow (8/22)!

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