San Cristobal has so much to offer that we decided to do a land tour to try to see the highlights. Most of the town can be seen on foot, but a few key tourist spots need to be accessed by car and preferably with a guide. Our plan was to see a new tortoise breeding center, the town of El Progresso, Puerto Chino beach, active crater, and a look out.
The town of El Progresso started out as a hacienda owned by Manuel J. Cobos. He had excessive power over the inhabitants and authorities. He started a sugarcane factory but was killed in 1904 because of the exploitation he subjected to his workers. This was the beginning of the population in the Galapagos.
El CEIBO – THE TREE HOUSE
It took the owners over 25 years to build El Ciebo, the tree house which can be accessed by a suspension bridge or fireman’s pole. It has a sitting area, small refrigerator, bathroom, and upstairs sleeping area. You can rent.
Below the tree house is a beautiful glass sculpture using over 22,000 beer bottles to create their “welcome” sign. There are lots of boating artifacts and even a submarine in a tree. There is a “man cave” in the trunk of the tree about 8’x8’ with lighting , posters, and a wall where you can make a wish for good fortune by pressing coin into the trunk.
MIRADOR DE LA SOLEDAD
The lookout point or Mirador de la Soledad is a great place to see the bay, Kicker Rock, and Los Lobos Islet. It also has a very old church which at first glance looked abandoned. However, we shimmied around to the back and peeked down to find that the interior is in pristine condition for the monthly celebrations.
EL JUNCO LAKE – LAGOON
In the highlands of San Cristobal you will find El Junco Lake which is actually a huge crater. It is the largest active permanent fresh water lagoon and is a refuge for frigate birds. As many of you know, the frigate bird cannot bathe in saltwater, but they can bathe in fresh water. It is usually very foggy making it difficult to see the other side, but you can still imagine its beauty.
The lake sits 700 meters above sea level, is 250 meters wide and 6 meters deep.
CENTRO DE CRIANZA DE TORTUGAS TERRESTRES DAVID RODRIGUES
Yes, we have visited a lot of breeding centers, but one can not get enough of these gentle giants. This facility was a blend between the other two we have seen. The tortoises do roam wild so you can see them up close and personal, but they also have enclosures as well.
La Galapaguera Breeding Center has about 100 Chatamentis tortoises which have no dome. They are called intermediate saddle back. Around most of these sanctuaries are lots of “poison apple tree” as the tortoises love them (people can’t eat them).
This breeding center also keeps the baby tortoises in cages, then moves them to enclosed areas until the mature. They had lots and lots of babies.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Tortoise can go 1 year without eating or drinking?
- Females run from mating, males force themselves on them
- Eggs must be carried in the same position as they were found; otherwise the embryo will die
PUERTO CHINO BEACH
On our way to Puerto Chino beach we had to stop at a road side stand to get the boys a beer. The beach was stunning with crystal clear green water, lots of sea wolves and a beautiful path (35 kilometers) to and from the main road.
We ended the day with a late lunch at a local eatery where they served one meal – an Ecuadorian pulled pork plate of yumminess.