Author Archives: Christine

About Christine

The one that makes it all happen

Las Grietas Swimming Pond

Las Grietas, Salt Pond, and Los Tunneles

Off to explore Santa Cruz.  Matt found a few places that were within walking distance so we decided to go exploring.  Las Grietas is across the bay and can easily be reached with a water taxi and a hike.  If we feel jiggy, afterwards we are going to try to find Los Tunneles on the mainland before having a col beverage at sunset.

LAS GRIETAS

Las Grietas means crevis or crack which is exactly what this is between two tall cliffs.  To get to Las Grietas you make a short 1.5 mile hike on an easy trail.  Once there you encounter an amazing sight to behold.  It is a beautiful swimming pond sandwiched between two huge cliffs.

The Las Grietas Hike

The Las Grietas Hike

On the way to Las Grietas we came across a small salt pond.  The salt marshes are connected to the sea.  With the help of the tides, the water floods and goes around the shallow areas.  The wind and sun evaporate the water which allows the crystallization of the salt.  Do you think if I swam in this my hair would turn pink?

Galapagos Salt Pond

Galapagos Salt Pond

Las Grietas was formed by the displacement of lava due to volcanic eruptions.  The water in Las Grietas is brackish, the result of mixing salt and fresh water.  The fresh water comes from the highlands through the underground filtration.  In Galapagos, fresh water is a big treasure!  A treasure can be simple but extremely valuable.

We so loved walking around the top of the cliffs.  But, unfortunately, we did not bring our suits or snorkel gear so we didn’t go swimming.  We will have to come back and take a dip in this pristine water!

Las Grietas Swimming Pond

Las Grietas Swimming Pond

Los Tuneles

After that great hike to Las Grietas, we headed back to town, hopped in the water taxi to take us to the main land to begin our walk to find Los Tuneles.  How were these tunnels formed?  When the surface part of a lava flow cools in temperature during its flow, that part solidifies.  However, the parts further inside continue to flow forming an extensive tube shape through which the lava flows uninterruptedly.

When the eruption stops, this flow also stops.  The level drops and an underground tunnel is left.  Over time, sections of tunnels collapse making these very unstable.

El Tunel on Santa Cruz

El Tunel on Santa Cruz

GALAPAGOS FACTS

  • In a few years, solar will provide 100% of power to San Cristobal (now 50-60%)
  • 3% of the island is provided for living (homes) farming.  Therefore, 97% of the island is considered a national park
  • Don’t allow plastic straws at any island (metal or paper)
  • In addition, all single use plastic will be banned within the next few years.
  • San Cristobal has 3 wind turbines that provides the majority of the power for the island.
Pretty View from Las Grietas Trail

Pretty View from Las Grietas Trail

Gorgeous Sunset through a tree.  Although the tree is beautiful during the day, it becomes spectacular at night.

Sunset

Sunset

Meat Market for All

Discovering the History of Galapagos

We had Wayne for one more day and decided to learn a little more about the history of Galapagos.  In order to do that, we had to find the Centro de Intrepretacioin Ambiental.  The Interpretation Center walks you through the history of Galapagos islands.  You can also learn about the animals, flora, fauna, and the local population.  Five buildings share the origins of the islands, the Charles Darwin Foundation, and the hope for the future.

Interpretation Center

Interpretation Center

On our adventure, Matt happened to wear a “Freebirds” T-Shirt.  I only mention this because he never does cotton shirts.  He normally wears quick dry shirts because cotton is horrible in the heat.  But, on this day he wore it and we happened to come across a small eatery called “Freebirds.”  What are the odds?  Wayne admired Charles Darwin, I kicked up my heels with a blue footed boobie and took a nap on a sunbathing turtle.

Playing the Tourist

Playing the Tourist

After Wayne left, Matt and found the meat market.  To our surprise it was home to several begging sea wolves, seagulls, and marine iguanas.

Meat Market for All

Meat Market for All

The Galapagos have a strong recycling program in force.  In addition, they are diligent about keeping their islands clean.  One entrepreneurial local educate visitors and residents about the dangers of cigarette butts. He spent well over 25 years creating these displays out of cigarette butts – as if the habit is not disgusting enough…

Display of Cigarette butts

Display of Cigarette butts

Beautiful Tortoises

A Tree House, Crater, Beach & Tortoises

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.

EL PROGRESSO

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.

The Tree House - El Ciebo

The Tree House – El Ciebo

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.

The Tree House Mancave

The Tree House Mancave

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.

Mirador de la Soledad

Mirador de la Soledad

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.

El Junco Lagun

El Junco Lagun

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.

Totally Timid Tortoises

Totally Timid Tortoises

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.

Baby Tortoises

Baby Tortoises

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.

Puerto Chino

Puerto Chino

We ended the day with a late lunch at a local eatery where they served one meal – an Ecuadorian pulled pork plate of yumminess.