Day Four (4/2) — Isabela

Yesterday I left you with a mystery: what would happen to our little crew when the tsunami hit? Answer: it didn’t. At about the right estimated time a tsunami should have arrived here at the equator we encountered a change in the sea from calm to very choppy, and there was one point were it felt like we on top of a small surge. But that was it. So, sorry folk, Thom’s still with you. 


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Unfortunately, the big diversion out to sea on a night when we already had a long cruise ahead of us meant that we arrived at Punta Vicente Roca late in the morning. Our activities today started with a panga ride along the cliffs, followed by a snorkel in the same area.

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During lunch, we moved the boat down to Urbina Bay, where we once again found ourselves pretty much the only ones at our visitation site (virtually none of the boats seem to be going out as early as we are, or stay out as late; everyone else was just finishing up as we came ashore). The nice things about being last at the site is that we can spread the two groups out and take our time. And time we took, as we immediately hit a Giant Tortoise feeding on small apples form an endemic tree. A few steps down the path, and we had a second Giant Tortoise, and a few steps beyond that we started seeing the land iguanas, and literally right in our path. 

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I’ve given you the full view here. We’re on a modest path, and the animals sometimes use the path as well. That’s a large land iguana mid-photo in the path. Sometimes we catch the animals crossing the paths (below), sometimes they’re just off the paths. 

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As I noted, we also got our first peek at tortoises today (soon to appear on the GoPro video site, apparently; just tell everyone you were shooting slow-motion). 

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Often, when you’re standing there photographing something, it may walk right over to you. While this isn’t one of the bigger tortoises, be aware that if a giant tortoise wants to go somewhere and you’re in the way, they don’t stop. They’re not used to anything being able to stop them, and even smaller ones like this may outweigh you.

The very first time I visited Urbina Bay in 1990, the iguanas were skittish because there was still some feral activity, and the tortoises tended to be deep in the brush. But the park service appears to have eradicated the non-endemic predators, and now the land iguanas couldn’t care less about people. Indeed, you really have to watch where you put your feet, as it’s easy to step on a tail sticking into the trail if you’re not paying attention.


Landings: Urbina Bay is a wet landing, again with a fast drop off into deeper waters; also, this landing is well known for big waves at the landing site

Snorkeling: done off the panga at Punta Vicente Roca, can be choppy

Major New Sightings: Blue-footed Booby, Turtles, land iguanas, giant Tortoise, Galapagos Hawk, penguin

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