Galapagos: Santiago and Santa Cruz

Sealion and pup

On Santiago Island, we met more laid-back sea lions. You can just about make out the red creatures around them which are Sally Lightfoot crabs like the one below. Also in the gallery are a marine iguana and a yellow warbler.

Despite being inspired to visit Galapagos because of Darwin’s finches, we got loads of pictures of other birds but only one of a finch which was so poor it wasn’t worth scanning 😦

Giant tortoise and John

Our final island was Santa Cruz, which hosts the largest human population in the archipelago, the town of Puerto Ayora, the Charles Darwin Research Station and the headquarters of the Galapagos National Park Service. We were there to visit the wonderful giant tortoises.

From there we got the ferry back to Baltra for our flight out, having had an amazing time.

Would I go back to Galapagos? I’d love to but, ethically, I think I probably shouldn’t. It’s still the case that tourism is regulated to protect the wildlife, but much less so than when we were there. At that time, Santa Cruz was the only inhabited island – now, hotels have been built on several others. I’ve made enough impact on this unique ecosystem and will save it as a beautiful memory.


40 thoughts on “Galapagos: Santiago and Santa Cruz

  1. hungrydai March 10, 2016 / 11:07

    Oh wow you’ve been there. That’s a long journey, Anabel. I would love to go but it costs big money for me.


    • Anabel Marsh March 10, 2016 / 11:25

      It was a long journey, it was a package which also included Cuba so we stopped there both ways. All a long time ago now – 1999! Definitely the holiday of a lifetime.


  2. Suzanne et Pierre March 10, 2016 / 14:20

    Nice post and interesting dilemma you raised at the end of it. It is always a fine line between responsible tourism and helping the local people make a living. Galapagos is one of these places we haven’t visited yet but I always wonder if we should in the current context of over abundance of tourists…(Suzanne)


    • Anabel Marsh March 10, 2016 / 16:28

      I think it’s reasonable to go once – I’m certainly glad we did.


  3. Pit March 10, 2016 / 14:36

    These islands take you back in time, don’t they? Thanks for taking me with you. 🙂
    Have a great time,


  4. joylovestravel March 10, 2016 / 15:20

    Something about tortoises – so intriguing I think – these ones are amazing!!


  5. susan@marsha'sbungalow March 10, 2016 / 15:28

    Thought-provoking end, there. That’s probably why it’s a good idea to take photos along the way – so you can enjoy the journey more than once, the additional times from your own front room.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anabel Marsh March 10, 2016 / 16:31

      Exactly! These pictures have been in the loft for years so it’s been good to get them out again. And now scanned so much more accessible of course.


  6. Marcia Strykowski March 10, 2016 / 15:44

    Such relaxed sea lions, they blend into the rocks so much, I almost missed the smaller one. And that tortoise, wow, can’t miss him. Thanks for sharing your amazing trip to the Galapagos.


    • Anabel Marsh March 10, 2016 / 16:33

      I think with a better, digital, camera we’d get a clearer shot these days. Some of the pictures were unusable because of the lack of contrast which scanning made worse.


      • Marcia Strykowski March 12, 2016 / 20:44

        Oh, I didn’t realize. It looked like a good picture to me with clever sea lions camouflaging. I know what you mean about old pictures compared to nowadays, though.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Su Leslie March 10, 2016 / 21:57

    Thanks for sharing your journey and memory — even more in context of your point about the ethics of increasing tourism.


    • Anabel Marsh March 10, 2016 / 22:39

      Thanks Su. Continuing a conversation from another list – I checked the James plays tonight and they are on here while we are away! Will have to be another time. I’ve seen Black Watch, the very first National Theatre of Scotland play, twice which suggests this one is likely to come round again too.


      • Su Leslie March 10, 2016 / 22:54

        I think you are right; they do seem to reappear. I saw ‘The Strange Undoing of Prudentia Hart’ in Auckland, and wanted to take Mum to see it when I was in the UK later that year. It was playing — just not at a time/place we could make work.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Birgit March 10, 2016 / 23:33

    I bet those tortoises are older than any of us. What an amazing trip you had a great memories. What a shame to think that hotels are springing up everywhere.


  9. findingnyc March 11, 2016 / 01:33

    What a wonderful experience – thanks for sharing it!


  10. hilarymb March 11, 2016 / 13:27

    Hi Anabel – I can understand you not wanting to go back to the Galapagos bearing in mind the ecosystem and conservation aspects … I can’t believe they’ve built hotels there … mind you Namibia is much the same – no-one has stepped on many of the dunes, shoreline for millennia – a step lasts over 100 years …

    Fabulous that you were able to enjoy .. cheers Hilary


    • Anabel Marsh March 11, 2016 / 13:48

      I haven’t been to Namibia – would like to, but moral dilemmas there too as you say.


  11. Sarah Ferguson and Choppy March 12, 2016 / 17:14

    The tortoises on Santa Cruz were one of the things I loved best about the Galapagos (after a couple islands, I got sick and tired of boobys and other birds – so much poop everywhere (which, I realize, is probably not the impression one should take from the islands, but it’s the one that stuck with me)). It would be first, but as I also got to snorkel with penguins and sea lions, I really can’t pick one as a favorite.


      • Sarah Ferguson and Choppy March 12, 2016 / 23:25

        Oh, they were great – for a couple days. I just got bored! I think perhaps I was expecting more of a nightlife. Or even a restaurant or two. However, we were on a cruise, and sort of got what they had.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. inesephoto March 12, 2016 / 23:54

    Thank you for these wonderful posts! It is so sad to learn that tourism is out of hand there. I don’t want to visit Galapagos anymore. One tourist less then.


    • Anabel Marsh March 13, 2016 / 00:24

      I don’t know about out of hand, but certainly more activity than when we went there. Didn’t mean to discourage entirely……anyway, glad you liked the posts.

      Liked by 1 person

      • inesephoto March 13, 2016 / 09:29

        I did some research, and asked a friend who went there in 2010. Places like Galapagos are in desperate need of money for conservation and eco-friendly tourism.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. BeckyHelps March 18, 2016 / 05:52

    I heard Sarah (Great Great Grandaughter of Darwin) talk about the impact of tourist sandwich choices on the islands. Swimming between the smaller islands looking at the tomato species, she noted how the hybrid seeds from the thrown food, was competing successfully with the native species and having a negative effect on the natural balance.


    • Anabel Marsh March 18, 2016 / 07:25

      Sounds as though they are much less strict than they used to be, we never took food onto any island, washed our feet before getting on and off boats. I suppose now they’ve started building hotels on more islands they can’t stop people eating!

      Liked by 1 person

      • BeckyHelps March 18, 2016 / 07:29

        This talk happened around the 1998 mark.


        • Anabel Marsh March 18, 2016 / 07:30

          Oh right, about the same time then. I’m surprised. Maybe all tour companies weren’t as strict as ours.

          Liked by 1 person

          • BeckyHelps March 18, 2016 / 07:37

            Sarah spoke about the cross pollination from the hotel compost tomato plants and the native. That they were spreading at an alarming rate back then. Let’s hope something got done to halt that.


            • Anabel Marsh March 18, 2016 / 07:44

              There was one hotel on the biggest island so it must have been there it happened I suppose. At the time, all habitation was on that one island so yes, I also hope they did something to sort it out before expanding. Not 100% hopeful though, hence my decision not to go back.

              Liked by 1 person

  14. jazzfeathers March 26, 2016 / 20:43

    You borugh out a very serious ethical question. Turism is good for people’s lives, but what about the enviroment that same tourism exploits?
    I think we are too concentrted on ourselves today, and we are not willing to renouce anything. I really applaude your ethical sense.

    I love the toirtoises. The first time I heard about the Galapagos I was a kid, and it was a very famous TV documentary about the island and their wildlife. You probably know what I’m talking about.
    How is it meeting tortoises? They are such ancient beings. I think I’d feel… I don’t know, strange 🙂


    • Anabel Marsh March 26, 2016 / 23:28

      It was interesting to meet the tortoises – but they didn’t reciprocate our interest!


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