Campo Duro is pretty wonderful. It’s clean and comfortable. I can’t decide if it was endearing or annoying to hear the roosters starting their thing at 3:30 a.m. every day. With the remote location in the highlands and clear skies at night, it made for some epic stargazing. And the sunrise was pretty spectacular, too.
First stop: Tortoise Breeding Center
After a great breakfast that included fresh juice, bread, and scrambled eggs with peppers, onions, and tomatoes in it, we hopped in the truck and headed to the Tortoise Breeding Center. It’s still enjoyable to watch the big, old tortoises move so slowly, while the younger ones scurry around. Something new to us all were the four jars that contained tortoise fetuses in various stages.
What’s probably the most amazing thing is the size of the egg. They look like ping pong balls, but are a little smaller than the size of a baseball. Apparently, the bigger the egg, the bigger the tortoise will grow to be – and vice versa.
We also got to see some tortoises that hatched just a couple days ago and another bin of tortoises that were less than a month old. They were smaller than the size of my palm.
From there, we took a 15-minute walk through the wetlands to meet our truck. Along the way we saw the tiny fiddler crabs, along with lots of flamingos and iguanas.
The iguanas could really care less about you; walking over and around them is pretty common in the Galapagos. So it’s pretty easy to snap a photo of them in perfect poses.
Animals galore while snorkeling at Los Tuneles
Half the group opted to take a 40-minute speedboat to Los Tuneles to do some snorkeling while the other half stayed in Puerto Villamil to explore the small port city.
Along the way, we passed various small islands where we saw several different species of birds (including Galapagos penguins and the blue-footed booby). We even saw a few mantarays jumping out of the water, which are larger versions of stingrays, except these hang out in deeper waters.
The name Los Tuneles (the tunnels) makes complete sense when you get there. It’s easy to get lost in the labyrinth of crevices in the water. Alex forewarned us that it was important we stick together and not veer off because it’s easy to get turned around. The water was really clear, making it easy to see all the sea life, which included sea turtles, sea snakes, seahorses, sting rays, various fish, corals, and bull sharks.
True to form, these wild animals ignored us – even the sharks. My heart was definitely beating in a flurry around the sharks, especially when I swam after a pretty large one to get a video of it – and then discovered I had no idea where my group went. Why didn’t I listen to Alex?! Luckily, I found them pretty quickly (and my video is pretty cool), but … yeah, that was dumb.
All-in-all, we ended up snorkeling for a good 90 minutes or so – there’s just that much to see in Los Tuneles!
Finally – BOOBIES!
After getting back on our boat, The Cactus, we headed to another part of Los Tuneles where we could walk on the lava formations. That’s where we saw the blue footed boobies! First, we saw a very handsome male who posed and let us take lots of pictures of him.
Then we noticed a female (which have even bluer feet) sitting on a nest incubating two eggs.
We walked around some more and found a three-week old booby who couldn’t yet fly; it’s feathers weren’t yet ready. What was most amazing about it was the same size as the parents, just skinnier and with fluffier feathers. Its feet are still white, which will turn blue by the time it reaches three years old.
In case you’re wondering, yes, it’s been the joke amongst the entire group about seeing boobies. We yell it often – when we see a bird, when we take a group photo … a lot.
A wonderful last night on Isabela
After picking up the rest of our group at the pier, we headed back to Campo Duro for a night of food, rum, and a lot of laughter and chatter around the bonfire. Most of us tried out the outdoor shower, which was actually pretty awesome.
Mick and Vicki, the Irish couple in our group, got engaged while snorkeling at Los Tuneles. It was adorably cute (Mick asked my travel buddy Kristen to capture it all as it happened), so we definitely celebrated the occasion that night. We all agreed at how lucky we were to have such a fun group. Everyone gets along really well. If you’ve ever toured with a group before, this is not often the case.