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The Isles of Isabella and San Cristobal

Updated: May 23

Isabella is the biggest and youngest island – and although the largest population is in Santa Cruz, the constitutional capital of the Galapagos is in San Cristobal.  The harbour towns have the feel of a Greek Island some years ago 

Isabella is easy, laid back, everyone has flippers, snorkel and wetsuit over their shoulder.  And you can see why ...

The first shots are in a lava gully on the islet of Tintoreras and some of the videos are shot in a similar, but narrower crevasse we floated gently through.  You could touch both sides at the same time – but you needed to be a bit careful because of the sea urchins settled on the underwater cliff-face. The first video shows a playful sealion getting absolutely no rise from the white-tipped sharks .....

Walking along the beach the marine iguanas got bigger and stranger looking – though I love the buddy shot where the iguana has a Galapagos lizard on his back

Look at the claws on the hind legs of the last but one iguana - on the rock - perfect for the landscape!  The very last iguana seems to be tasting a dried leaf – not their usual tucker at all!

Isabella is the place to see seahorses, too. If you can see them, that is. Their camouflage is masterful - so, even though (at 8-9 inches) they are bigger than I expected, I had to get "tuned in" to see them at all.

Where Isabella is wonderful for sea turtles, sea horses, sharks and iguanas; San Cristobal has, as Charlie would say, in insane amount of sea lions. They're black when wet but the same sealion will be sandy coloured when dry ....

Their "croaking" is my new alarm because my room looks over the harbour and they they rouse the town at dawn. I can't quite describe the sound - some here call it "bleating" like a sheep - 😊

Over in Darwin bay, a dominant male makes a slightly bossier growl and keeps his family in order.

We snorkelled quietly and the sealions all came out to play. Two teenagers were chasing each other so fast they were breaching like dolphins - and one baby, no more than 2 feet long, was great in the water but struggled with the surging tides when it came to climbing back on the rocks. They are curious and friendly and at one point I had seven or eight of these powerful creatures circling me in cheeky acrobatics. When they started nibbling my flippers, my guide was quite relaxed but I thought we might be intruding too much and so flippered my way back to the quay, with sealion sentries on either side.

Inland in San Cristobal is the only freshwater lake in the Galapagos. Every morning there's the spectacular circling and bathing of frigate birds who swoop and dive to wash the salt off their wings. But it's been humid and misty today and from the top of the crater, all we could see was mist. Even right down at the water's edge the lake was well disguised.

Inland there are thistles, like in Scotland, and coffee, grown by the local collective amongst the orange trees and tropical fruits and flowers.

It's been sunny and fresh by the coast but, inland, it can be very humid. Whilst in my treehouse I washed some T shirts and they took three full days to dry!

The roads in San Cristobal are more usually paved - whilst they are just sandy tracks in Isabella - and the harbour front is pretty little restaurants and small hotels. The islands are so different - but each of the three has been special to me.

I'm so glad I've been able to wander around the islands and do a bit of exploring before getting on the Oosterschelde later today. She came into harbour last night and it was good to go to bed knowing that the sea adventure starts today.

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