Thursday, 28 June 2012

Dispelling the Myths of Galapagos

Apart perhaps from loosing a loved one, there can be no greater natural disaster on earth than the demise of a SPECIES. How many we have lost since the coming of mankind is immesurable, but just this week we lost another. The rarest creature on earth, with just a single specemin, the
PINTA GIANT TORTOISE is no more. I will refrain from using its human name (one of my serious pet hates) but suffice to say
he was first discovered in December 1971, years after they thought the Pinta Tortoise had become extinct, his estimated age at time of death was 100+, I do not know when he was moved off of Pinta, but he had been on Santa Cruz for a number of years, in a designated area, with his two ladies from Espanola. Breeding did take place but all eggs were infertile, and he was the symbol of conservation of all endemic creatures of the Galapogos Islands. John Gifford Just think about it, if you haven't seen this one you will never see PINTA GIANT TORTOISE - what a great shame!
It was less of a shame that once again this morning a veil of dense fog hung over the Island which, taking a quick look at the car pak, had not detered the tourists.
At a range of about 100 metres this was the view of the Lighthouse, and although I did meander down to the Obelisk it was felt best to return to Weymouth on the same bus that bought me here. Just as well really as I had left my binoculars on the back seat - luckily they were still there. So, with nothing to report other than the weather, and given the sad headliner I will continue on the Galapagos theme in the hope the information will be of help to some and inspire others.

It has to be admitted that before my first visit to
there were thoughts of some sort of 'black art' attached to such a venture, was it only possible with a tour group, with any necessary paperwork in place and how the hell would you get there.
These questions are easily answered, No, No and Fly! There is an option of ship passage but whichever you will inevitabley have to get to either Quito or Guayaquil in Ecuador.
The NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ENDEAVOUR smacks to me of a Kings Ransome but there has not been time to investigate the link.
Although there are other vessels I doubt there is a more ecconomical way to get and stay there. Flights are daily from Quito and all stop at the main sea port of Guayaquil

SANTA CRUZ ISLAND where stands the Galapago Capital of
PUERTO AYORA to the south.
All flights land at the old US Airforce Base on the Island of Baltra, a short distance north of Santa Cruz,
and on arrival everyone must pay a $100 entrance fee to the National Park (which is all of the Archipiélago de Colóns, the official name, 18 islands and 107 rocks and islets).
The currency thoughout Ecuador, to which the islands belong, is the $US and for just one of these you get the bus to the ferry, just a short distance away, which runs to Santa Cruz. The ferry fare is a matter of a few cents?
while the 90 minute bus ride to the capital will cost you a few dollars more?
The islands are considered expensive but that was not my impression on either trip,
staying at the Castro Hotel, just a 2 minute walk to the harbour side, on both occasions for £25 (2003) and $30 (2010).
The people are very friendly and courteous, food is good at UK prices, getting around easy by bus, taxi or hitching a lift. On one occasion a policeman, out in the wilds, stopped a motorist and told him to take me back to town for $5,
All of the creatures above were seen on the last trip alone, along with many more. Some necessitate a boat ride which averaged out at $80 to $100 per person, but if for instance you wanted to see Flighless Cormorant the distance is much greater and by definition more expensive. It would only be half a trip if some time were not spent in beloved Ecuador, the longer the better, details of which are on this Blog.
and finally, I have been sent these rather astonishing pictures of the recent Jubilee Celibrations in London. 
WORLD WAR II AIRCRAFT fly along the RIVER THAMES including the LONDON EYE (wheel).