Friday January 12th
Woke up about 4:30 then drifted back in and out of slumber until about 5:55. We have a wonderful sunrise. There is even a yacht in the foreground of my photos.
We have an early start at 6:00 because our allocated time at the Los Tintoreras area of the National Park is 6:30- 8:00. A quick snack and drink and we are soon in the zodiacs.
Along the way we see our first blue footed booby
and a brown pelican. On arrival at Los Tintoreras we immediately see iguanas of various sizes,
spectacular red crabs and seal lion pooh, all on a terrain of black volcanic rock. As we walk around we are just about stepping on iguanas basking in the early morning sunshine. They blend in with the black volcanic terrain. (Look carefully at the bottom left of this photo.)
They are everywhere. The black lava rock contrasts brilliantly with the red crabs too.
We do a loop track. At one point we come to a submerged lava tunnel.
Because the tide is out a couple of sea turtles and white tipped sharks are confined to the tunnel, making viewing them easy.
At the end of the loop walk we reboard the pangas (zodiacs). On the trip back to the boat we pass some more blue footed boobies sitting on a rocky isle.
On our return we have a late buffet breakfast. Following that the crew prepare us for a snorkelling and swimming session. We are fitted out with masks and flippers and given blue beach towels. We also opt to have a wetsuit as the water temperature isn’t that hot. I also take an inflatable vest for extra buoyancy if needed. The zodiacs take us to shore on Isabella island and we walk around to the beach. The sea lions have taken over the benches under the shady trees so we leave our gear on the beach. The water is quite shallow as we make our way in. Luis informs us this is not the best area for snorkelling but we see some small fish, a passing marine iguana swimming to shore and a playful sea lion swims close between Karen and I. I find it quite hard to adjust to the snorkelling as breathing through your mouth and having your nose locked by the mask is a bit foreign but I manage to do it in a few bursts. After a while we return to the beach. Another sea lion swims in and an iguana is staying at the water’s edge allowing the water to wash over it.
After a while it moves forward a few metres then flops and spreads itself out in the sun on the dry sand. We return to the shore on the zodiacs in time for our buffet lunch. Quite a spread! As we eat we notice a sea turtle is swimming near our boat too.
After lunch we take a short rest, a.k.a an afternoon nap. At 14:00 we take the pangas ashore again. Luis has arranged for an Isabella ‘limousine’. Fancy, eh?!
It drives over the unsealed road to the start of the boardwalk through the wetlands. More iguanas, stilts and most impressively, orange plumed flamingoes can be seen. As we walk through Luis tells us about flamingoes. We spot over two dozen as we go from pond to pond.
The terrain is dry in places then green and well treed in others. It’s amazing what grows through the cracks in the volcanic terrain.
After some time we conclude the walk and enter the Arnaldo Tupiza tortoise breeding centre. Each section devoted to the raising of the local variety of giant tortoise but at different stages of life, from hatchlings to twenty year old or more. This variety have a slightly flatter shell than the domed ones we have seen previously.
At the conclusion to the tour we are dropped back in the ‘limo’ to the main part of town. We have free time for about an hour and a half. Karen and I check out the Main Street restaurants and a few shops before walking along the beach. Here we see many more iguanas and crabs.
Most of the others opt for a drink at one of the local bars and a rest. After our walk we sit on a seat at the beach and chat with Nino and Pia, who are from Italy. When five o’clock comes we walk to the dock ready to take the zodiacs back to the boat. Casual as you like, a sea turtle swims up to the dock beneath us.
As usual a drink and a snack await us on our return to the catamaran. We rest until nearly sunset when we go upstairs and take a few sunset photos. Spectacular again.
At 18:30 when Luis conducts his regular evening briefing we go into the lounge. Buffet dinner follows at 19:00. Birthday cake for Jose, one of the crew, is our dessert. We sit around and chat for a while then head to our cabin to type and look through our photos. As the boat will do night travel again we take another seasick tablet before going to bed. We drift off but the raising of the anchor and heavy rocking motion wake us, but we soon go back off to sleep dreaming of what tomorrow would bring.