Santa Cruz
N. Seymour
Galapagos Islands
San Cristobal
Giant Cactus
Giant Cactus

Darwin reported encountering a pair of giant tortoises feeding on cactus during his first landing here in 1835. Today the airport of this easternmost island in the chain is increasingly used as the arrival point for flights into and out of the Galapagos. The administrative capital for the province is Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on the southwestern shore, and in 1998 the Galapagos National Park Visitor Centre opened for the benefit of islanders and travelers alike, presenting a comprehensive exhibit of the islands' natural history, human interaction, ecosystems, flora and fauna. It is also the place where cultural activities take place, including theatre, exhibitions and workshops. From the Interpretation Center, a short trail arrives at Frigate Bird Hill, where both "magnificent-frigates" and "great-frigates" can be seen in the same colony—ideal for learning to distinguish the two bird species. A 45-minute bus ride from town takes you to one of the few permanent fresh water lakes in the islands. Its location in the highlands of San Cristobal (2,300 feet or 700 meters) ensures our passage through a variety of vegetation zones. The lake offers a panoramic setting for exceptional bird watching.

Heading up the coast from Wreck Bay and Puerto Baquerizo, you will see Isla Lobos across a small channel off the coast of San Cristobal. This basalt island outcropping lives up to its name of "Sea Lion Island" with its noisy population of frolicking and barking beasts. It is also a nesting place for blue-footed boobies and an excellent spot for snorkeling.

Leon Dormido, also know as Kicker Rock, is a spectacular formation that rises 152 meters (500 feet) out of the Pacific. It takes the form of a sleeping lion, but from another angle you can see that the rock is split, forming a colossal tablet and, piercing the sea, a great chisel ready for etching. Small vessels can navigate through the narrow channel between the rocks.

© Photos copyright Nova Fisher 2008