We woke and had our first of seven delicious breakfasts on the boat. They all included plenty of coffee, fresh juice, eggs to order, and a specialty item. Soon we were back on the pangas, headed to Puerto Villamil, a small port village located on the southeastern edge of Isabela (the majority of the 2200 residents of the island live in this town). The harbor was full of private yachts, since this is a regular stop on tours of the Marquesas Islands.
We docked and departed on a bus to Sierra Negra Volcano, which is the largest basaltic caldera in the Galapagos with a diameter of 6.2 miles. The site offers impressive views and the opportunity to observe up to seven species of finches and a rich display of vegetation. The north side of the caldera provides evidence of its most recent volcanic activity in 2005. It is one of the most amazing sights ever: lava rock as far as the eye can see. I really enjoyed this hike!
After a nice lunch on the boat and a nap, we panga’d back to Puerto Villamil to visit the Arnaldo Tupiza Breeding Center of Isabela. It is located about one mile from Puerto Villamil. In this breeding center, tortoise populations from several different areas have been bred in captivity. In total there are 330 juvenile and adult tortoises. I was interested that they were separated by age. The small tortoises were playful and a bit faster than their elderly friends.
After that we strolled through the Wetlands, which consists of lagoons, swamps, and mangroves. We saw a variety of unique bird species such as common stilts, whimbrels, white- cheeked pintails, and gallinules. We also saw flamingos and our first swimming marine iguana.
We toured town and John and I drank some coco loco’s even though I don’t recommend them! A little like lighter fluid. On the panga home, we saw a group of blue-footed boobies who seemed posed for our picture! And then a sea lion joined them! We all agreed it was the perfect cap to a lovely day.