Santa Cruz—Puerto Ayora

After about 2 hours at CDRS, Carolina turned us loose in Puerto Ayora to wander about for a PAcouple of hours.  We strolled down the main street and several side streets, looking in store windows and checking out restaurants and hotels.  Zell found a store selling Panama hats and tried on several.  He took a photo of this mural on the side of a restaurant (below).  Translation:  Freeing breeding female and young lobsters will allow us to continue fishing in the future.

PA_C&RWe stopped to enjoy the open-air fish market, located on the side of the main road and backing up to Academy Bay.  Talk about fresFishMarket_1h fish—directly fromFishMarket_2 the fishing boats to the market for cleaning, gutting, whatever.  We had no interest in buying any fish (although if we were back home, I’d have been all over it).  But it was great fun to watch the wildlife hanging out, begging, hoping for scraps.  The Galápagos Sea Lions (right) were the most insistent customers, insinuating themselves right up the counters.  The Brown Pelicans waited a bit more patiently (below).  In general, although the workers just ignored them.  But they gave us some laughs.

FishMarket_3And look at the lovely pattern of one of the Brown Pelicans waiting, hoping, for an easy meal.  It’s easy to miss how gorgeous their feathers are.  (Click on the photo to get a larger and more lovely view.)

BRPE - CopyThe morning was really hot and humid, with no breeze; and I didn’t feel much like walking around aimlessly.  (Even on a good day, I’m not much of a shopper.)  Clearly, more than 20 years of living in Colorado, with its dry climate, had made me susceptible to high humidities.  (In our dry climate, perspiration actually works as it should—it evaporates and cools you.  But in really humid air, nothing evaporates and nothing cools you.  At least me…)  I couldn’t shake my feeling of light-headedness, so we headed for the grocery store for some refreshments—ice cold Coke and some peanut M&Ms.  Yum!  When paying, we at first thought the cashier had given us too little change.  But the fellow behind us pointed out that 2 of the coins in Zell’s palm were $1 coins—oops!  Even though these were U.S. coins, the dollar coins are not popular in the U.S.; so we didn’t even think of that possibility.  We offered our apologies (good thing I know how to apologize nicely in Spanish!) and we headed off.  So cash customers—be forewarned!

We plunked ourselves down at the dock to eat our snacks and await the rest of the group—and the dockpanga—in the shade.  And we got to watch the various boats moored in lovely Academy Bay.  On our visit in 2009, we had seen many, many Blue-footed Boobies doing their “spear” diving from high above the waters here.  But this year, we saw nary a one here.  Hmmm…

AcademyBayAfter lunch, we headed to Tortuga Bay. Click here to read about that.

2 Responses to Santa Cruz—Puerto Ayora

  1. Doug Mullens says:

    Just found your interesting site and have a question. Which Islands that you might visit on a cruise still have Giant Tortoise living in their natural habitat?


    • Tina says:

      Hi, Doug–

      I’m not sure how much of a stickler you are about “natural habitat.” The most likely place to see Giant Tortoises living free is in the highlands of Santa Cruz. They are indeed living in their original habitat there, but they are often “cohabiting” with farms, so the habitat doesn’t seem quite as natural. But they’re easy to see there, that’s for sure.

      Another spot in the SC highlands is El Chato Reserve. I’ve not been there, but it might be a more natural habitat, if that’s important to you, since it’s a reserve. You can read about it here: .

      Another spot that you might (emphasis, MIGHT) come across a tortoise in its natural habitat is on the landing at Urbina Bay on Isabela. (We saw one young one walking down the path in front of us.) Urbina Bay lies at the foot of Volcán Alcedo, which is home to the largest single population of tortoises in the archipelago. Another spot that some folks report seeing a tortoise or 2 is on the walk to the Wall of Tears, near Puerto Villamil on Isabela. But again, you have to be very lucky to happen on that.

      Finally, I have read about La Galapaguera on San Cristóbal, but I haven’t read any reports of travelers who’ve gone there. It sounds like it’s a long, hot walk: .

      On both our trips, we saw these lovely behemoths in the agricultural lands of the highlands of Santa Cruz. That was natural habitat enough for us–and a delightful alternative to seeing them at any of the breeding centers. I highly recommend these spots for their ease and the ability to see good numbers of tortoises in a short while.

      Don’t hesitate if you have other questions!



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