Santa Cruz—Tortuga Bay

Baltra&SCMonday, May 13, afternoon

The afternoon plan was a visit to Tortuga Bay Beach (or Turtle Bay Beach, as Carolina called it).  If you click on the map of Santa Cruz above to get a larger version, you can see Tortuga Bay on the southern coast of Santa Cruz, just west of Puerto Ayora.

SantaCruzScheduleI had read a lot about this outing.  A rather long trek with little shade—and the afternoon was even hotter than the morning had been.  I opted out of this walk, since Carolina said that we’d not likely see much in the way of wildlife that we’d see nowhere else on the cruise.  Zell decided to go, with the idea of perhaps stopping into the hat store again on the way back, so he took photos.  He had his eye on a hat there…

The walk to Tortuga Bay was flat and easy (below) once you climbed the stairs to thTortugaBaySigne top of the cliff—and shade was TortugaBayWalkindeed pretty much non-existent.  No facilities along the way either, so be sure to take lots of water and sunblock.  The beach was indeed lovely (below), although swimming is not TortugaBaySign - Copyallowed in Tortuga Bay itself, since it is a wildlife sanctuary (right).  Also, reports mention potential undertows.  But the group walked to the cove beyond Turtle Bay for swimming and snorkeling.

TortugaBayBeach

The Opuntia grew tall as trees in this area (left).  Opuntia are the prickly pear cactus, which we are very famOpuntia_2iliar with on our Colorado property.  But our prickly pears get—oh, perhaps 1 foot tall.  These probably stretched 20 – 25 feel high, having clearly earned the name “giant prickly pears!”  Zell took a photo of Academy Bay as they walked toward Tortuga Bay (below).  You can see the stunning Mary Anne in the upper left corner, looking as if she had just sailed out of the 19th century.

MA_view
Zell captured a few photos of wildlife along the way.  A marine iguana (below) pMarineIguanaosed on the sandy beach.  (Darwin was rather repulsed by these interesting creatures, calling them “imps of darkness.”)  Yet another GAMO_2Galápagos Mockingbird (left) made an appearance.  The group also had nice views of a rather calm Galápagos GAFLFlycatcher (right) , which looks like a munchkin version of another members of the Myarchus family that we know well in Colorado—the Ash-throated Flycatcher.  And finally, a different-looking ground finch.  With the beak as long as it was deep and the black plumage, it’s most likely a male Large Ground Finch (below).

GRFI_4Estimates of the length of the walk from the center of town place it at about 3 miles, one way, from Academy Bay.  Those who went on the landing reported that it was, indeed, wicked hot.  I had made a good choice to stay behind—and I had a wonderful, relaxing afternoon lolling aboard the Mary Anne.

And Zell returned with his spiffy new hat.

ZellsHatJust after dinner, as I was about to head down to our cabin, Carolina gathered us on deck for some stargazing.  My first view of the Southern Cross!  I had wanted to look for it on our first trip, but the nights were always too cloudy.  Success at last!

Tonight, we would set out for the western shore landings of Isabela.  Now this was why we were on this cruise!!!  Click here to head to the next adventure.

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