Galapagos Part Deux – San Cristobal
Ferry to San Cristobal
So, onto today’s blog…….. day 113 started with a 7am ferry crossing from Santa Cruz to San Cristobal. The pier was quite chaotic with so many people getting a ferry together and you have to have all your bags checked again to make sure that you are not carrying fruit. This is because the Galapagos do not want to cross contaminate their islands with non-indigenous plants.
First of all in Puerto Ayora you need to take a taxi boat from the pier to the ferry, which costs 50 cents per person, then onto a relatively small boat, maybe the capacity of 30 people and it was full to capacity. Due to my fear of the sea I don’t like boats so was less than chuffed to be herded to the front of the boat where I couldn’t see out and would be the first to drown (in my head obviously). The journey was pretty horrendous, we were bounced all over the place and it was quite scary (for me) but definitely uncomfortable for everyone. I would recommend taking earphones and listening to a podcast or music to entertain yourself for a quite unpleasant 1 ¾ hours.
Arrival at San Cristobal
We arrived at San Cristobal to be greeted by a smaller pier and waterfront, so we first set off to find some breakfast. We stopped at Tonga Reef and discovered cheaper breakfasts, with Greg having some scrambled eggs and me an empanada. Then onto Casa de Laura, we got directions from people on the street and it was only a 5 – 10 minute walk. Casa de Laura is really prettily done up, although we were unlucky to be there whilst they are building a kitchen for everyone’s use. I think that will be a great thing. Laura is very helpful and showed me through a map of the area giving me hints and tips plus the prices that we should get charged everywhere. We settled into our room, which had a separate lounge area, with fridge and microwave but the bathroom was very small.
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno
Then we went off to explore Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the main San Cristobal town. We stopped for another coffee at the Mockingbird, then walked along the sea front past Golden Bay / Playa de Oro. There we saw a number of sealions including mothers with their infants. Two males were competing for space so we watched the rather comical sight of a sealion fight, which consists of them hitting each other’s necks with their own neck. I wish we had gotten a photo.
We grabbed lunch at Café Zayapa and then moved onto Playa Mann and tested out the water – MUCHO FRIO!!!!!! We ran from the sea and walked up to the Interpretation Centre, which tells the history of the Galapagos Islands.
The islands have been unpopulated by people, used as penal colonies, used by pirates to hide and collect tortoises, used by Charles Darwin to continue his theory of evolution and Norway even sold the Galapagos as a utopia for its people who came in droves but left after realising how inhospitable the land is. There is an aristocratic mystery too with a German aristocrat coming to the island with two lovers, then one of them dying in mysterious circumstances. The Galapagos really has seen everything!
That evening we went for asados (BBQ) at San José Grill, which had been recommended by www.findingtheuniverse.com. The food here was pretty expensive, Puerto Ayora prices, but it was very good.
The next day we decided to head for Las Loberias as recommended by another blog, www.bobaroundtheworld.com. It sounded like the beach to go to on San Cristobal. We were planning on snorkelling so first headed to Wreck Bay Diving to hire wet suits and snorkelling gear. The total cost for everything was $21 and the guys there were really helpful. Then into a taxi, $3 for Las Loberias.
On arrival, we didn’t see what the fuss was about, but the day ended up being one of dreams – bucket list ticking off stuff! We put our things on the provided bench / coat stands and settled down watching the sealions. One of them, a juvenile wondered up to us and then decided the bench was his, somehow he managed to flop onto it and he then settled down, occasionally barking at people when they put their stuff on the hooks. It was very funny.
We decided to take the plunge and go snorkelling. This isn’t an easy feat with my fear and Greg’s, decidedly low tolerance for cold water. In we went though! We met with a turtle, which I always wanted to see but never thought would happen, lots of beautiful fish and a few young sealions playing. We snorkelled for about an hour and then got out to warm up.
There was some commotion going on next to us and turned to see a sealion giving birth, being consoled by another young sealion. It was unbelievable, we literally could see the head and watched the whole thing. The mother soon got annoyed with the youngster and saw her off so it was just her giving birth on her own. The father, a big old boy, came up at one point but clearly realised that he wasn’t any use so went back into the sea. It was incredible, the mother and pup did well and by the time we left that day the pup had learnt how to feed and both were getting a well deserved sleep.
Top that we thought!!!!! So back in for a second snorkel. Oh wowsers!!! We swam with four turtles together, a manta ray and then played with some young sealions being taught by their mothers and that’s not mentioning the fish. It was truly magical, feels surreal to look back on it.
That evening we got take away pizza from Calypso (not great) and chilled out with Billions, our Game of Thrones replacement, its damn good!
The next day we’d decided to try and find frigate birds, they are the ones that the males have a red throat that they blow up like a balloon when mating. We headed back to the Interpretation Centre and onto the walk to Cerro Tijeratas. Cerro Tijeratas is well known as the place to see frigates on San Cristobal. The walk goes past a couple beaches, up some steps to a view point where there are indeed a lot of frigate, unfortunately all female so no red balloon (where’s Nena when you need her??).
We then decided to carry on to Playa Baquerizo. The walk is over rocks and along paths with loose rocks – it’s easy to slip as my bruised butt will testify. We arrived at a small bay with no one on it so we settled down for a nice chill out under a tree. It was nice to get away from the crowds and just be for a while.
Snorkelling Trip to Punta Pitt
We had wanted to go to Kicker Rock for snorkelling but the trips were full, so on Sunday we headed to Punta Pitt with Wreck Bay Diving. Punta Pitt is on the northern side of San Cristobal. There were 2 other snorkelers and 5 divers on our boat together with John the guide who spoke perfect English, a dive master, the captain and was very comfortable.
We headed out to our first dive site, which took 2 hours. It was a long time to be bounced about. We all jumped into the sea and I overcame my fear once more to see quite a few fish and a diamond sting ray. The sea was absolutely freezing, Greg and I both had full wet suits on, the divers had boots and hood too. Following hot chocolate and biscuits we headed back in. The highlight was a bright yellow puffer fish, but unfortunately it was so cold it was hard to enjoy without having an exciting discovery like a shark or something!
Lunch of fish, rice, pasta and vegetables was served, which was very nice but I would have liked it to be on a beach somewhere rather than inside the boat. We then set off for Punta Pitt.
It’s a wet landing so you have to jump over the side into the sea and then put your hiking shoes on. Walking sandals would have been fine by the way. The beach was picture perfect with just a couple of sealions lazing around.
John taught us that sealions are actually a descendant of the bear! How amazing is that, apparently they are bears that learnt to live in the sea. Evolution is incredible isn’t it.
Blue Dotted Boobies
We then started the trek to see……..blue footed boobies. You know the ones, they do a really funny dance to mate and identify each other.
On our walk around we saw lots of blue footed boobies, red footed boobies and frigate birds. Apparently with the blue footed boobies the more blue their feet are the worse they are at fishing! The frigate birds can’t dive into the sea like the boobies so they try to steal food from them when they can – naughty! The birds were great and not scared of us at all. The landscape was also pretty spectacular.
Unfortunately, we had to head back for a two hour journey home – sad face! It was cold and rough on the way back, but the journey was made better by a huge school of dolphins coming to see us. They performed jumps and flips into the air to clapping and gasps from the crowd. It was pretty good. We arrived back into port exhausted, so a quick shower and food!
We went to Mariscon as recommended by a couple on our boat, Greg had octopus cooked on a lava rock which was impressive. It was a lovely last meal for us on San Cristobal. An early start in the morning for the 7am boat back to Santa Cruz.
We have written two other blogs about our Galapagos travels:
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