We were on the move once again today, this time to the island of Santa Cruz, so it was another 6.30am start. However, we first had to visit the island of Tintoreras, which we did with some of the other group and their guide, Danny, who is infinitely more helpful than ours.
We caught a taxi over to the island, which is just in the harbour, and alighted for a walk. Our first stop was at Shark Alley, where we saw white tipped sharks swimming beneath us. (And, yes, they really do have little white tips on their fins.)
The only other animals of interest were the marine iguanas, of which there were a great many of all ages on the small island. I find them endlessly fascinating as they are so strange to look at and blend in so well with their environment that it can be hard to spot them.
The lava, here, was also very different and was referred to as ‘A A’ lava, a name that originated in Hawaii, and so called because it is very sharp and people said ‘ah ah’ when they tried to walk across it. It is also covered in lichen so the landscape, whilst flat, is very interesting.
After the walk, we got back onto the boat and travelled a little further round the bay where we were lucky enough to spot some blue footed boobies, which was very exciting, as well as a penguin or two. Some of the group then went snorkelling but I, and a number of others, were unsure of the currents, so decided against it. (A couple of the other group also had to be rescued at Kicker Rock, apparently, so they were also wary.) The snorkellers swam with a shark and a penguin but I don’t feel as though I really missed out. This part of the trip was a highlight, probably because we didn’t have Jocelyn as a guide.
Back on the jetty, we had to wait a little while for the people Jocelyn had taken out (we were too big a group to go in one boat all together) and then we loaded into another water taxi to go to the motor boat that was transporting us to Santa Cruz.
This trip again was extremely fast and took about 2 hours. Santa Cruz is the most populated of the islands, with about 20,000 inhabitants. It was certainly the most touristy as, being in the centre of the archipelago, it is used as a base by visitors to do day trips. On arrival, we walked to the hotel and then went straight out to lunch, after which Jocelyn accompanied some of us to the Charles Darwin Research Centre, whilst the others went to the beach.
It was extremely hot as we walked around but it was very interesting to learn how they were trying, successfully, to increase the population of giant turtles, of which there are different species on each island. Unfortunately, Lonesome George remained the last of his species until he died in 2012 but they are still trying to reproduce turtles using his DNA. At the Centre, there were also a couple of land iguanas, which were extremely yellow and nothing like the marine species. This breeding programme had already been successful so it is no longer being undertaken.
The rest of the day, until dinner, was free, so I had a bit of a wander around the many souvenir shops, trying to refrain, unsuccessfully, from buying anything. Somehow, I ended up with a T shirt that is very pink, a colour I never wear, and a square tea towel type cloth with a map of the islands on it.
Close to the hotel was a small fish market where three ladies were filleting and selling fish whilst a sea lion and several pelicans begged at the bench. It was a sight to behold! I stood watching for quite a while and then went with Laura in search of a shop selling beer, after which we sat on the deck outside our room, with a beer, and attempting to use the internet, which has been unbelievably slow in all the islands.
Dinner was, as usual, at 7pm, and again was very good. As it was the last night, I accompanied it with a cocktail or two, which went down very well!