Monday 21 March 2016

Uganda Meets Galapagos and Conservation Results

Anyone following my blog knows how much I love Galapagos: it is my home and my whole life is immersed in its culture. As a naturalist and guide for the Galapagos National Park Service, I am dedicated to preservation of our wonderful environment and to conserving our biodiversity and ecosystem. An important aspect of this is preservation, reuse and recycling of our natural resources. That's why I was really impressed to learn about how our local artists and artisans have started a trend and new movement to incorporate local recyclable materials into their final works of art.

I was a bit surprised, however, to learn that it was not a Galapagos native, but a Ugandan paper beadmaker who is at the forefront of this movement. In 2011, Sarah Akot visited the Galapagos Islands and left a creative legacy for local craftspeople.

Sunday 28 February 2016

Galapagos Islands Marine and Land Iguanas

Recently, a tourist was found attempting to smuggle four iguanas out of the Galapagos Islands in a suitcase. This situation was horrible and thankfully the man was stopped and the iguanas are safe. The story created outrage, but it also reminded me that iguanas are a unique and amazing species. While there are still iguanas throughout the Islands, they have become extinct on several islands and are on the endangered species list.

At first glimpse, you might find these reptiles to be a bit ugly, even repulsive and scary; you wouldn’t want to face down one of these in a dark alley! But, a second look will probably change your mind. In fact, at second blush, it seems that many of these lizards are smiling. Take a look at this one from Sante Fe Island, for example:

You Have to Love Him!

Espanola Island - Gardner Bay

The Greeting Committee at Gardner Bay

Espanola Island is the home to several spectacular visitor sites, one of which is the exquisite white sand beach at Gardner Bay. It's a beach perfect for walking and watching the frolicking and resting sea lions, hundreds of which may be seen here at any given time.

To me, this is always a special place. Always, loud guttural barking is a first indication that we have arrived at Espanola Island’s beautiful Gardner Bay. Be prepared for the amazing welcoming committee made of literally hundreds of sea lions lazing on the beach, playing in the surf and soaking up the sun.

Espanola Island - Suarez Point

Gorgeous Vista at Punta Suarez
Espanola Island, the southernmost and one of the oldest islands in the archipelago, is a treat waiting to be discovered by every Galapagos Island visitor. If possible, there is too much beauty, uniqueness and wonder to conceive of in one small place.  

National Park Service Photo
At Punta Suarez, you have a dry landing – but a very careful one on a rocky ledge – and be sure not to step on the Sea Lions!  You will walk up a trail, through some fascinating flora and fauna and many little lava lizards before arriving at your ultimate destination – the top of a cliff populated by Blue Footed Boobies and Waved Albatross.

Kicker Rock Near San Cristobal in the Galapagos Islands

Kicker Rock at Sunset
Kicker Rock at Sunset photograph by Aquasurround
One of the most photographed sites in all of the Galapagos Islands is Kicker Rock, also known as Leon Dormido because to some it resembles a sleeping lion. Kicker Rock is an easy trip from San Cristobal’s harbor of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and no excursion to the Galapagos Islands is complete without a visit here. There is no more stunning and majestic site in the Galapagos Islands.

Kicker Rock Daytime
Kicker Rock Daytime photograph by Aquasurround

The two inexorable towering monoliths of Kicker Rock are a constant presence within an environment that is otherwise ever-changing and dynamic. Approaching Kicker Rock, you may at first see only one large rock inexplicably rising from the Pacific. As the boat gets closer, you begin to see that there are, in fact, two high peaks and soon you can discern a space between them.

Visitor Sites on San Cristobal in the Galapagos Islands

View on the Way to Galapagos Eco-Lodge Hotel on San Cristobal
The Hillside and Center of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno
on San Cristobal from the Harbor at Sunrise

The beautiful and versatile San Cristobal Island is one of the most eastern and oldest of the Galapagos Islands. It is moderately-sized, at 195 square miles. But, that land area is filled with some of the most visited and remarkable sites anywhere in the world. This versatility also accounts for the fact that San Cristobal is the second most populated of the Islands; about 8000 people live on San Cristobal. While all of the Galapagos Islands is dedicated to conservancy and maintaining the tenuous ecological balance discovered by Charles Darwin, nowhere is this more true than the Island of San Cristobal itself. It is a forerunner in the quest for renewable energy; at least 60 percent of its energy already is generated by wind and solar power. You will see the wind towers from the harbor and as you drive throughout the island.

Visitor Sites Near San Cristobal in the Galapagos Islands

Kicker Rock at Sunset, San Cristobal, Galapagos
Kicker Rock at Sunset
I’ve written all about the marvelous spots available for traveling on San Cristobal Island itself in my post entitled San Cristobal Island Visitor Sites. Among them are the main town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, La Loberia, The Interpretation Center, Frigatebird Hill, Darwin Bay, La Galapaguera, El Junco and San Joaquin Hill, Puerto Chino, Mann Beach, Punta Carola Beach (sometimes called Cape Horn Beach) and Colorado Hill Lookout. You can learn all about these sites by visiting my earlier post and also on the website for the Galapagos Eco-Lodge.

While the sites on the island itself are all treasures, the beauty and magic of what lies a short boat ride from the harbor is truly dazzling. The first of these sites, and truly an iconic place in all of the Galapagos Islands, is Kicker Rock, sometimes called Leon Dormido. This is such a spectacular location, breathtaking at any time of day, that it warrants an entire post of its own, Kicker Rock.