Discover Galapagos - A travel guide to Galapagos cruises, tours, boats and yacht charters

Galapagos Islands tours - fun for the whole family!



A travel guide to Galapagos tours, boats, cruises & yacht charters

Galapagos Islands Guided Tour

Isla Floreana - Charles

Flamingo lagoon at Punta Cormoran, Floreana Island, Galapagos
 
Charles Darwin c 1840 "September 23... The Beagle proceeded to Charles Island. This archipelago has long been frequented, first by the bucaniers, and latterly by whalers, but it is only within the last six years, that a small colony has been established here. The inhabitants are between two and three hundred in number; they are nearly all people of colour, who have been banished for political crimes from the Republic of the Equator, of which Quito is the capital. 
The settlement is placed about four and a half miles inland, and at a height probably of a thousand feet... the staple article of animal food is supplied by the tortoises. Their numbers have of course been greatly reduced in this island, but the people yet count on two days' hunting giving them food for the rest of the week. It is said that formerly single vessels have taken away as many as seven hundred, and that the ship's company of a frigate some years since brought down in one day two hundred tortoises to the beach." - Charles Darwin, Voyage of the Beagle

"I saw two sharks again today swimming along slowly through Devil's Crown. Predator to predator. Eye to eye. The bull sea lion defends his territory with 3 females and a couple of young who playfully swim between the rays of light in the murky water. They pay no attention to the sharks. I hide in underwater caves holding my breath... waiting. A sea lion sneaks up behind me and surprises me with its dark shape in the cave, swimming right by underneath me as I follow it out into the light and it disappears into the murk where hundreds of small silvery fish glisten and shine." - My journal

 

Map of Punta Cormoran, Floreana Island, Galapagos
Punta Cormoran

When we awaken in the morning it is quiet. All you hear is the sound of the waves lapping against the side of the hull and, in the distance, the sound of boobies honking and hissing. Once out on deck you see that we are anchored in a small protected bay not far off the shore of Floreana at Punta Cormoran. To the west is "Devil's Crown" - a small islet of jumbled rocks. It is an old spatter cone that has been eroded by the sea. It  is one of the best places in Galapagos to snorkel.

Right after breakfast we are all anxious to get ashore to see the Galapagos Flamingo in the nearby lagoon. We take the panga ashore and quietly follow the trail to behind the red and button mangrove at the edge of the lagoon. These flamingos are very timid and the least amount of noise can send them moving further away from you. A pair of binoculars and a good telephoto lens on your camera is an asset.

 

Flamingoes at the Flamingo lagoon, Punta Cormoran, Floreana Island, Galapagos
© Jeff Waugh
Flamingoes
We stay hidden in the mangrove as much as possible and manage to have a flamingo walk within 10 meters of us. Shhhhh. Some of us can't hold back our excitement, but we do have to be careful not to frighten them. This is the Galapagos bird most endanger of extinction. There are only an estimated 100-150 birds remaining. The introduction of feral pigs into Galapagos has had a devastating affect on their nests and eggs.
At this distance we are able to see how the flamingo moves its bill upside down underwater to gather and filter the bottom sediment. Flamingos feed almost entirely on crustaceans like shrimp, and it is the shrimp that provides the pink pigment for their feathers.

Feeding flamingo at Punta Cormoran, Floreana Island, Galapagos
© Jeff Waugh

Spider web on the trail to the beach at Punta Cormoran, Floreana Island, Galapagos
© Jeff Waugh

After almost an hour of observing the flamingos and other water birds in the lagoon, we return the beach and continue along another trail to a viewpoint overlooking the lagoon. We have to brush aside a few spider webs and almost get caught in one it seems so large. The spider is, too!

The trail takes us to a wonderful white sand beach that is a favorite nesting ground for the Green Sea Turtle. We explore the beach and waves on our own and find a few remains of turtle eggs and some recent tracks down to the beach. A turtle may have nested here last night! We spend a short while lazing along the beach and swimming in the waves to cool off. On our way back to the panga we get another opportunity to observe the flamingos from the viewpoint before descending to our landing beach and returning to the boat.

 

Later that morning we are in the panga and off to the "Devil's Crown". This is a great place to snorkel and certainly one of my favorites - if not my favorite. Over the years I have had some wonderful experiences with a variety of underwater characters: sea turtles, Galapagos Sharks, Moray Eels, and sea lions. Outside of the crown is a good place to see Hammerhead Sharks, if you are interested...

Devil's Crown off Floreana Island, Galapagos
© Jeff Waugh
Devil's Crown

Don't worry, they do not enter the crown itself. In any case there have only been two reported cases of shark attack in Galapagos and in both cases the people made the mistake. Our pangero takes us right inside the crown and ties up at a submerged concrete anchorage.

 


Evan at Devil's Crown © Jeff Waugh

It is prohibited from dropping anchor here due to the danger of harming the coral formations. Today, the visibility is perfect and we all have a wonderful time. Even those that don't swim have a chance to view the bottom through a glass box or with a mask and snorkel from the panga.

 

Visitor, Margaret Wittmer and Jeff Waugh at the Wittmer house on Floreana Island, Galapagos
© Jeff Waugh
Visitor, Margaret Wittmer & Guide

After our exhilarating swim we are ready for a big meal. Today we get a treat and head to the Wittmers for lunch. Margret Wittmer came to the Galapagos from Germany to settle in the late 1930's. The family has been living here ever since. The lunch is fantastic and so is that strange tasting "orange wine" that they make. And is it ever powerful! If I ever need any fuel for my backpacking stove...


Post Office Bay

Early in the afternoon we are back to the boat and off to the famous Post Office Bay. There is an old barrel adorned with a variety of signs pointing the direction and giving the distance to places all over the world. It is here that early settlers or visitors would leave their mail in hopes that someone who might be going in the right direction would take their mail and deliver it or pass it on. 

The crew of the H.M.S. Lancaster at the Post Office Barrel, Nov. 28, 1917

H.M.S. Lancaster crew at Post Office Bay, Galapagos, 1917
Courtesy of John Woram

Letter mailed from the Post Office barrel, c. 1938

Letter mailed from Post Office Bay by crew of U.S.S. Houston, 1938
Courtesy of John Woram

The Post Office Barrell, Post Office Bay, Floreana Island, Galapagos
© Jeff Waugh
Post Office Barrel

The custom continues today. We leave some letters and postcards and take some that have been left for delivery. Still today, some may take years to deliver as they get passed from hand to hand along the way. I still have one from 1980 that I guess I should pass along. Oh, well... maybe next year!

We continue to the "Post Office" through an old Norwegian fishing camp from the 1930's to the entrance to a lava tube. We brought some ropes for this one to help us descend. Once below we carefully walk towards the ocean and eventually find we are walking into sea water (by niemann at tforge online). We look around and find the remains of a sea turtle who could have entered through the lava tube from the sea and not been able to find its way back. Looks like a good place for buried treasure to me!

We help each other out of the tube and return to the beach and our boat for our cruise...

To Hood

 

 

 

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