Saturday, 18 January 2020

We Hiked in Pursuit of Boobys

I have pretty much ascertained that the best vacations are the ones from where you need a vacation to rest up.

We have been going non-stop since we left the Southern Home last Friday. There have been hikes and swims (although, to be honest...not really our thing) and zodiac rides and even a few close encounters of the sea lion kind. We thought that our morning on San Cristobal that included a trip to a scientific interpretation centre would be a rest stop and in truth, it kind of was. There are only five islands in the archipelago that have human inhabitants and San Cristobal is one of them. It is the political capital of the Galápagos and while we aren't much for shopping and we definitely are not souvenir hunters, taking a leisurely stroll through the town wasn't a terrible way to unwind. There is a colony of sea lions that have pretty much taken over the place. They are EVERYWHERE like stray cats are at home. When we disembarked from the tender, there were hundreds of them just waiting to greet us on the pier. They were lounging aboard fishing boats and swarming the small beaches. One of the bulls even managed to make his way into town, stopping traffic as he jaywalked. The locals just ignore them and allow plenty of leeways. I suppose it is something like the way we deal with trash bandits or f***ing squirrels. Ignore them and hope for the best. I was enthralled by the sea lion pup that was obviously no more than a week old. He had just come from a swim and was (fingers crossed) waiting for his mama to come and feed him. There is every possibility that something had happened to his mother because it is unusual to see a pup that young so alone.

The quiet morning was necessary given the afternoon we had planned at Punta Pitt on the north side of San Cristobal. We decided to join the crazies on a three-kilometre hike straight up the rock facings of Punta Pitt. Our mission, should we achieve the summit, was to take in the nesting grounds of the red-footed boobys. Unlike their blue-footed cousins who nest on the ground, the red-footed variety like the altitude of the trees on Punta Pitt. We scaled a dry river bed that is impassable during the rainy season and made our way through narrow rock crevices and desert landscape. And it was hot. Really hot. Humid and hot. Swimming in your own juices hot. But, we were rewarded many times over when we reached the top. Not only is the view of the area spectacular but the red and blue lovelies were abundant. The blue guys were active with their wolf-whistle mating calls and we were even treated to the mating dance between the partners. Think of it as walking across hot coals danced by Urkel. Those with red feet required a sharper eye. Looking up into the trees, we noticed males close by while the females guarded the nests and already hatched chicks. This experience through nature's kindergarten has left me stunned in awe. There is so much beauty around us that we so often take for granted, that it was truly lovely to stop and stare in amazement at boobys for a while. ­čśĆ

I know...it's a dad joke.

We are winding down. One more day in the islands and then we head back to Quito for one last night. I will post one more from tortoise day at Galápagos camp tomorrow.

These are Nazca Boobys



Blue Footed Booby with newborn



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