Total distance travelled: 47,355.3 kilometres (29,413.23 miles)
Having left our last cruise friends behind on Isabela (Dave and Cyd), we arrived back in Santa Cruz with around 5 hours of spare time until our onwards boat to San Cristobal. We’d already resolved to utilise this time to make a visit out to the Charles Darwin Research Centre which we’d earlier missed (just in the off chance our tour had taken us there anyway).
As we strolled in that general direction along the conveniently named Avenida Charles Darwin (not surprisingly, much around the islands is named after Darwin), we wondered about the friends we’d last seen in this very town, Jeremy and Risa (the lovely San Franciscan couple), along with the Irish pair, Neil and Elsa.
As if on queue we suddenly heard a shout from the rooftop, and there waving with a smile stood Risa!
Jeremy soon appeared and we promptly agreed to dinner, before realising that we’d be on a different island by then, so just as quickly revised this to lunch.
Chuckling to ourselves over this chance meeting, we continued on our way towards the aforementioned centre.
We popped our head into random souvenir shops on route to help us pass some time, before we spied a little something that demanded our attention.
Down what I’ll call a laneway, although in truth it was actually a natural tunnel within the trees, somebody had created a thing of life and colour, a Jardin de Ceramica (Ceramic Garden).
We’d had word that the Darwin Centre wasn’t all that good (from one of the other guests when we were on board the Floreana), but with plenty of time and little else on our agenda, it didn’t seem all that bad a plan despite it being yet another hot day on Santa Cruz.
This is one of those instances when we heartily disagreed.
We got the expected sighting of several of the Giant Tortoises that inhabit the site as part of the breeding program, so no disappointment there.
After paying homage to the memory of Solitario Jorge (known to the western world as Lonesome George), the last known Pinta Island Giant Tortoise who passed back in 2012, we then stumbled what was for us, the highlight of the place.
A nursery for the young, ridiculously cute Giant Tortoises!
We spent a ridiculously enjoyable time at a variety of the pens which ranged in age from a month or 2 in age, right up to a couple of years old (or maybe it was older still)!
Even in their youth these lovely animals possess that wise looking face that we’d witnessed on all of the larger, fully grown versions we’d spied on both Santa Cruz & Isabela.
Whilst they may have looked comically slow, there was no denying their determination!
After we wrapped up our time there, we made good on our promise of lunch with Jeremy and Risa, although being a Sunday made our dining options a little more limited, so it was gringo fare all round.
It was great to be able to catch up properly after our respective tours, and leave after have said a proper goodbye!
Our boat beckoned, and after a process that was almost identical to that for our voyage to Isabela (we mimicked the details so well, that Sarah and I again slept through much of the journey).
I can only assume that either the voyage was rougher, or perhaps a few of the passengers on this boat had lower levels of fortitude, for when we did finally wake, not far shy of our destination on San Cristobal, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, several people on board had made full use of the provided vomit bags!
We had nothing booked for our final Galapagos night, however we’d scoped out a guesthouse that seemed to work with our budget when we’d passed through days earlier on the Floreana.
As we were leaving the dock however, a local did the usual spruiking, his price was the same and it sounded fine (and he definitely had room for us), so it was up the hill we went.
The walk was a little further than he’d initially suggested, but it was by no means far, and as we walked in through the main door, all I could do was burst into laughter.
On a lounge, right in front of us sat Elsa and Neil, the Irish couple we’d left on our 2nd day in Galapagos, but not had the chance to actually say goodbye or grab any details from (we made sure we did that in the hope we can brush paths again in Peru).
They also gave us our inspiration for our final Galapagos morning, telling us about a nearby bay they’d walked to, so we set ourselves the task for our final few hours.
We went for a stroll along the waterfront to take in some of the local sea lion antics, one particular pup catching our eye as it behaved in a very puppy/kitten manner, entertaining itself with a large stick.
It’s a difficult sight to explain, so I figured it’d be even easier to just show you!
After we’d finally torn ourselves away from this lovely sight, we decided to splurge a little (given that the whole Galapagos trip was a splurge, why rein in the budget now) on a couple of beers with our final island sunset for company.
Our walk the following morning, was actually an extension of the walk we’d completed after our visit to the islands Interpretation Centre, this one adding a couple of additional kilometres over far rougher terrain.
I began to worry we made need to turn back before we’d made our destination, as it felt like it was taking far longer than it should to reach Playa Baquerizo, our ultimate destination.
But just as I was about ready to despair, we were there and a fairly scenic walk to boot!
One particularly unusual sight was a beach that was made almost entirely out of sea urchin spines
So, we’d finally made it, but sadly the sun had disappeared and the wind had picked up, meaning a snorkel suddenly didn’t look the most appealing option!
That all changed however, when a couple of Green Sea Turtles were sighted, after all, who could pass up the chance to get up close to them 1 final time.
Visibility continued its recent poor trend, but then all of a sudden, there they were, just as beautiful as ever.
Surging waters and our tight schedule kept our visit brief, although given that the day no longer felt as hot as it had earlier, our short swim was enough (indeed, it wouldn’t be long into the return walk that we’d be all hot & sweaty again).
We took some final shots of the coastline, before it was back to our guesthouse to retrieve our bags for our walk to the airport.
That’s right, I just said walk.
Wonderfully, San Cristobal airport sits about 1 kilometre out of town, so even given that we were on the far side of town, it really only increased the walk by 500 metres or so!
Galapagos was an incredible place, one that we left feeling incredibly content with all that we pursued, if not as thrilled with the hit that was delivered to our budget…
* Entry into the Charles Darwin Research Centre is very affordable by Galapagos standards, as it is FREE!
* Our 2 tickets from Santa Cruz to San Cristobal were bought with a small $5.00 US discount, so cost us $55.00 US for 2 people (as opposed to the advertised $60.00 US)
* The $10.00 US tourist card that is purchased before flying out to the Galapagos is required for your departure as well. Hang on to it (we kept ours with our passports), otherwise you’ll be forced to pay a fee again!