Galapagos Island

Writer: Atia Nasreen Category: ভ্রমণ (Travel) Edition: Dhaboman - Fall 2018


Galapagos Island is a place I always wanted to visit. It is so far away from Australia, however, it is every scientists, educators and environmentalists’ dream to come and visit this place. It is a very fascinating place, be it from a geological, biological or environmental point of view. As an educator I had the opportunity to teach both Plate tectonics and Theory of Evolution in Australian curriculum and Galapagos Island was always on my bucket list. Here, Charles Darwin came in 1835, in his historic tour and travelled from one island to another, studying different species of birds, gaining evidence in support of his theory of Evolution. I have shown documentaries by David Attenborough to my students. He worked tirelessly on these islands in explaining different aspects of Darwin’s theory and filming them. I remember in one of the documentaries, he was standing in the same place 10 years apart and was talking about how the population of species changed due to the changing environment, proving the Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest.

 I flew from Miami to Quito, the capital of Equador. Galapagos Island is part of Equador. From Quito we had to fly to Guayakyl as you cannot fly direct from Quito to Galapagos Island. More than 20 islands make up the archipelago of Galapagos islands. Flying there was a wonderful experience and a real adventure. As the plane was approaching the airport of Baltra island (one of the islands of Galapagos), I could see many small islands scattered around, many small volcanic islands, some were beautiful with crater tops. As soon as the plane landed everyone was so happy and excited. Can you imagine a plane full of tourists, who have come to a place to observe, learn and experiment? A group of school students were with us. They were primary school students in the age range of 10-12 years. I was thinking what a great place to come on a school excursion and what a great way to learn.

 The trip to my hotel was a real adventure. I took an Airport shuttle bus to come to the ferry terminal. From there I took a ferry to cross the channel which was very relaxing. People around me were very kind and caring, curious at the same time about this solo traveller who cannot speak any Spanish. After reaching the other end (Santa Cruz Island). I took a taxi to my hotel, in Peurto Ayora. I enjoyed the taxi trip. The road was so beautiful and the views were spectacular. The view kept changing. I was thinking of Darwin- how he came to this place, traveled from island to island and collected evidences for his theory, proving on the basis of availability of food, some species survived, some perished.

 After settling in my hotel and resting for a while, I went out for lunch. I went to a beach side restaurant. The food was good and the view was spectacular. I walked along the beach. It was quite a busy place with many tourists around. Everyone looked so happy. I could imagine as I was feeling that I was in a place which was in my wish list for quite some time, however, it is so far away from Australia that I had to wait till the right time. I came back to my hotel after spending some time on the beach. From the hotel reception I booked my tour for the next day.

 Next morning, I was picked up from my hotel in a private hire car with a tour guide. My first stop was The Twin Craters known as Los Gemelos. It was a beautiful sunny day, the morning was crisp. I walked towards the first crater. It was a quiet place. I saw a group of tourist at a distance. As I was walking towards the crater I was enjoying beautiful flora and fauna of the place, birds chirping around in a place with all the endemic trees and shrubs. It was beautiful around the crater. It 

was mind boggling to think that they were there for thousands of years. These impressive holes were formed by magma domes which hardened on the outside but continued to flow on the inside, leaving huge but empty chambers that eventually collapsed over time creating the crates. From the first crater I walked and crossed the road, which was pretty quiet, to go to the second crater. Along my way I saw many beautiful butterflies. I felt as if I was a part of the nature and there was nothing but peace and tranquility.

 After seeing the craters I walked towards my car, walking through the beautiful bush land. It was a unique experience. From The craters I was driven to El Chato tortoise reserve. The reception at the entrance was a beautiful place with a beautiful restaurant. I had my morning coffee there. The place also had a Lava Tunnel. After my coffee I headed for the Lava tunnel. The guide asked me if I was claustrophobic and I said no. He told me that in that case I would be fine. I started walking towards the Lava tube. I haven’t seen this type of lava tunnel anywhere in the world before so it was a very thrilling experience for me. Lava tunnels are a very interesting geologic formation. Lava tubes are conduit formed by flowing lava from a volcanic eruption. As the low viscosity lava flows, the outside cools down and forms a tube like structure. Hot lava inside still keeps flowing and eventually drains out leaving tube like caves.

Inside the lava tube it was quite dark. I carefully went down the rocky steps. At places there were electric lights. It was quite an experience. Finally I came out climbing the uneven rocky steps. It is always a great feeling to explore something new.

 After coming out of the lava tunnel I started walking along a turtle farm. It was such a quiet and peaceful place. The place was surrounded by trees, mostly guava. I could spot some huge Neem trees. I never have seen Neem trees so big. I saw several huge turtles around me, walking slowly in different directions. This is a place where animals are never scared of humans. They know it is their place and we are the intruders. I took a few photos. Trees were full of guavas. I couldn’t resists the temptation of having one. It was delicious. The inside was pink, something that I always love. After spending the day in the turtle farm I came back to my hotel. In the evening I walked along the beach, went to a tour organizing office and bought tickets for package tours for the next two days.


Next morning I was picked up from my hotel at 7 a.m. I was driven to the ferry terminal. From there we went to a speed boat and were taken to Isabella island. This is the largest island of all the islands in Galapagos. The speed boat was going very fast and some people had motion sickness. It was a trip of two and half hours. I enjoyed the trip. It was a beautiful sunny day and the ocean looked so beautiful. Once we reached the island it was a unique experience. I felt so excited looking around, this is what I wanted to see! All the seals were lying around and didn’t care about the presence of humans. The Iguanas of all sizes were everywhere and stayed where they were ignoring people around. We had to walk around the Iguanas finding our way which I found very amusing.

 Our tour guide, Juan, was waiting for us. He spoke both Spanish and English fluently. We were 18 people in our group, most of them were Spanish speaking. In a micro bus we were taken to the Giant Tortoise breeding centre. Isabela is the only island in Galapagos which had several species of tortoises. Here five species of tortoise evolved which was possible due to the distances between the volcanoes and different environments. The Cerro Azul tortoises have a dome shaped shell characteristic of those tortoises that lived on lush green vegetation close to the ground. They are large in size with the shortest limbs as their food supply was within easy reach. Sierra Negra tortoises have saddle back shell with longer limbs and necks. These traits developed over time to reach the cactus pads of their primary food source opuntia cactus. At the Giant Tortoise Breeding centre we saw different types of tortoises up close. I found them very interesting as I have taught these things in Australian curriculum and it was a great feeling to experience them.

We were shown around, starting from hatching of eggs to baby tortoises, adult and old ones. After the eggs are hatched the temperature of the environment will determine the sex of the tortoise. A temperature of 26 degree C or above favours female tortoises and temperature below 26 favours male tortoises. After the eggs are hatched they are taken to incubators where the temperature was controlled to have the required numbers of male and female tortoises.

As the temperature of the Earth is rising, if the tortoises are not hatched in the breeding centres in a controlled way, they will be extinct eventually!

From the turtle breeding centre we walked to see the flamingos. We walked along a wooden bridge about a kilometer long. It was a hot sunny day. There were mangroves all around us. Our tour guide was explaining the different types of mangroves. There were many different types of birds on trees including finches. The wooden bridge on the lagoon took many turns and we saw many flamingos around. It was a spectacular sight. It is so wonderful to see them in their natural habitat.

At the end of the bridge we came to the beach. It was a beautiful beach and the ocean looked so beautiful. I always love different colours of water in oceans all over the world. I remember my trip to Greece. High up from the top of the mountain in cape Sounion I saw the beautiful Mediterranean ocean. It was already a few years but a thing of beauty is joy for ever. It is still very vivid in my memory.

We walked along the beach for quite some time. Finally we reached a restaurant and had our lunch. After our lunch we walked along the beach and came to another small restaurant where we had fresh coconut. First we drank the water and then enjoyed the kernel. It was delicious.

We walked for another half an hour to come to our micro bus. From there we were taken to a snorkeling place. Being myopic, I refrain from snorkeling. I stayed on the beach enjoying the wildlife. Even the crabs were beautifully colourful. It was great to watch the seals. They were all around, relaxing, as if they have holidays for ever. I saw Iguanas of different sizes lying around as if they have nothing else to do. At the end we were brought back to the ferry terminal. We waited there for some time. It was a very relaxing place with beautiful trees around. I enjoyed the place sipping my coffee. We were brought back in a high speed boat, another two and half hours journey. I enjoyed it very much. Although I felt a bit dizzy towards the end, at least I survived. From the ferry terminal we were brought back to our hotel.  

The next day was the most exciting one, touring a few places in a package tour. I was picked up from my hotel at 5:50 a.m. in a bus. We were about 24 in our group. We traveled from the south of Santa Cruz Island (where I was staying) to the North.

From there we went to a boat. It was a beautiful boat. I felt like having a mini cruise. We were given breakfast which was a very healthy one and I loved it.

 We were taken very close to an extinct volcano. When we came close, the boat slowed down and we had the opportunity to see blue footed booby birds. These birds are found along the Eastern Pacific coastline where they often nest on small islands with rocky coasts. They were so beautiful, white birds with blue feet.

From there we were taken to a volcanic island which erupted in 1820. The island was built of igneous rock and it was so fascinating. I never would have thought of seeing something like this. The flow of lava gave a very special look of the rocks. They call it Pahoi hoi, meaning rope like. We walked around the island, taking hundreds of steps and I had to be careful in every single step. One mistake and my holiday will be in jeopardy. At times I was vertically challenged. But I kept going. Everyone in the group was very nice and sweet and offered me a helping hand whenever required.

Our next stop was Bartalame mountain. We had to climb 378 steps. Before starting the steps we walked up the ramp for one third of the mountain. The mountain was 114m in height. As we were going up the steps occasionally we stopped and our tour guide was explaining different types of flora around the place. The surrounding place was so beautiful. Finally we reached the top. I was very proud of myself. The view from the top was absolutely breathtaking. We were all taking photos. It is the place which we have seen in many pictures of Galapagos Island advertisements. It was a great feeling to be there.

After we came down the mountain we were taken to a place where most of the people in the group went for snorkelling. We three ladies decided to relax on the beautiful beach.

We came back to our boat and were given a beautiful lunch. At one stage we saw two dolphins swimming and following our boat. It was so beautiful to watch them. For the first time in my life I saw dolphins in the wild.

We came back to our boat and were given a beautiful lunch. On our way back we saw two dolphins swimming and following our boat. It was so beautiful to watch them. For the first time in my life I saw dolphins in the wild.

The boat brought us back to our island. Our bus was waiting for us and we were dropped off to our hotels.

Next day was time to leave this beautiful place. A taxi brought me to the Ferry terminal. I took the boat to Baltra island. I took a taxi to the Airport. I left the place with a very happy heart. It was a dream holiday, a dream that I had for a long time, visiting Galapagos Island, a far away place, so beautiful and so different from the rest of the world. It was a memory I’ll treasure for the rest of my life.