We had a brilliant tour of the island with Carlos, a taxi driver who for 25 years was in the Ecuadorian Navy (and sailed a tall-ship to Norway and Germany). As we hoped, we've seen lots of wildlife and not all of it terribly wild.
First of all the sea lions and fur seals are everywhere; playing around the boat and snoozing on the benches along the sea front:
We were tipped off to use the very good water taxis rather than inflating the dinghy to get ashore as they tend to take residence aboard unattended dinghies, presenting the returning owner with an interesting challenge:
Our tour took us first up into the highlands, with a hike up to an extinct volcano with a freshwater lake in it. The scenery and plant life reminded us of Scotland and, for the first time in 8 months, we were a bit chilly:
Next on the itinerary was a tortoise reserve.The Giant Tortoises of Galapagos became dangerously near extinction (there were originally 13 different species) as sailing ships of old discovered that the huge animals could be stacked in the hold, staying alive without food and water for months, to provide a steady supply of fresh meat for the crew. It's estimated that 250,000 were taken in a 30 year period. On San Cristobal, the remaining 3000 animals are all in the north-east corner of the island, very much at risk, so in 2002 a new reserve was built and a captive breeding programme started. Young tortoises, at the age of 5 (when they are about twice the size of 'British' tortoises), are being returned to the wild and the oldest inhabitant is about 100 years old.
Hearing a group of giant tortoises munching fresh greens, their deep breaths coming as contented sighs, is a delicious sound. We'll hope to post a video of the scene soon.
Finally we headed to the surf-pounded, black rocked coastline where the Marine Iguanas hang out to warm up after surfing. These really are dragons!
So, all in all, a pretty amazing day and there's a lot more to see!