Day three started off with an easy morning at post office bay on Floreana Island where we learnt about the history of humans on the islands as floreana was the first island to be inhabited by humans. Towards the end of the 18th century, whaling was an important worldwide industry; whaling ships were customarily away from their home ports for up to several years, in-between voyages. Due to its good accessibility in the Pacific Ocean, Post Office Bay became a preferred spot for many whaling ships. For this reason, in 1793, an English Captain named James Colnett came-up with the idea of placing a wooden barrel on the shore of Post Office Bay. The plan was for this remote outpost to function as a post office; a place to leave messages and mail for homebound sailors to collect the pieces and deliver them, once they returned to their hometowns. We had brought a postcard with us to deposit into the barrel and were able to pick up another one that we will deliver once we arrive back home! The island also had a snorkelling opportunities where I was able to see a green sea turtle, fish and playful sea lions.
After lunch back on board the boat we headed to another side of Floreana Island for a short hike around the island at Comorant Point. The beach we landed on had this dark olive green coloured sand due to the presence of olivine crystals. We then hiked around a flamingo lagoon where we saw the bright pink flamingos wading through the brackish water sifting through pungent mud looking for shrimp.
Our hike across the island took us to flour beach with coral white sand where green sea turtles nest and many sting rays lie in the shallow waters. We were also able to see lots of sally light food crabs scurrying along the dark black volcanic rocks.
Once we had explored the island and visited it’s beautiful inhabitants we jumped on our zodiacs out to Devil’s crown which is a volcanic crater located in the water. This crater is protected inside from the rough waves which has made it in an underwater oasis full of copious amounts of marine life and pristine coral reefs. That evening as it was such a clear night we got to go outside to the top deck and see the stars from both the northern and southern hemisphere which was truly a spectacular sight.
Day four was a really exciting day as we got to go out to Santa Cruz Island and drive into the highlands and see the Galapgos Island’s namesake the Tortoise. The drive across the island into the highlands was really interesting as we got to see a variety of different landscapes. The giant tortoises were such a highlight as we were able to get really close to such an amazing creature. They can live up to 200 years and weigh up to 275 kgs. They were quite unaware of us wandering around their surroundings and when they did get scared they were able to hide inside their shells.
We then drove back to a lava tunnel where we could climb inside and see a tunnel made naturally by flowing hot lava under the ground!
In the afternoon we headed back to Santa Cruz Island to visit the Charles Darwin Research Station and the Fausto Llerna Breeding centre. The research station is a non-profit foundation that does research about the island and is able to educate visitors to the islands about the history, geology, flora and fauna and an overview on the conservation programs that are set in place to keep the Galapgos Islands as natural as it is. The breeding centre was really interesting as it is an in-depth and lengthy program to stop the extinction of the giant tortoises located on the different islands. The tortoises were used a lot for food during the whaling period when ships were passing through. The project has been able to release many tortoises back to the wild and hopefully stop the extension of a beautiful animal. It was also really interesting seeing the tortoises at different stages of their lives from hatchlings to full grown and seeing the differences between the different islands tortoises.
That evening we had a beautiful barbeque dinner on the deck whilst watching the sunset over the islands. We also got to see a large amount of sharks swimming around the boat catching fish which was a wonderful but eerie sight.
The final day of our cruise saw us cruising around Daphne, a volcanic island that is a tuff crater and is totally devoid of trees. This island has had a lot of research done about darwin’s finches and other bird life. We then sailed to Baltra island to catch our flight back to Quito. Although we were sad to leave such a magical place I know that I will return one day!