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Isabela Day Tour
Isabela Island is the largest island of the archipelago, for several people is the most wanted, perhaps for isolation sensation going there or maybe for the long walks on a white sand beach. But if you don’t have enough time to spend 2 or 3 days on this beautiful island, with this option you can enjoy at least a little of Isabela. You will visit the Poza de las Diablas, a wetland passarell; then the Arnaldo Tupiza Tortoise Breeding Center, and finally an excursion to Las Tintoreras Islet with a short hike and the opportunity to snorkel.
“Los aplastados” or the flat tortoises
Godzilla marine iguanas
“Las tintoreras” or whitetip reef sharks
The trip to go from Puerto Ayora to Puerto Villamil takes about 2.5 hours. You will visit two interesting places in Isabela with your certified guide. First, you will start with a tour along the main street of Puerto Villamil, where normally from the very beginning of the main dock you will be welcomed by some sea lions, “Godzilla” marine iguanas, and seabird. Then you will go to the Arnaldo Tupiza Tortoise Breeding Center, where you will see five different species of Isabela tortoises and several babies. Along a wetland passarell, you will have the chance to see flamingos, black-necked stilt, and white-cheeked pintail ducks.
After a lunch at a local restaurant, you will go back to the main dock to take a boat for a short sail to Las Tintoreras Islet, during the sail you will be able to look at the endemic penguin along the coast. Once there, you will have a dry landing and before a 30 minutes hike, you will find more wildlife, like blue sharks, seabirds, sea lions, and more marine iguanas. After the walk you will return to the boat to get ready for the snorkel, in these protected waters you might have the chance to swim with sea lions, sea turtles, rays, fish, and sometimes even penguins. After this activity, you will get back to the speedy boat to get back to Puerto Ayora.
The flamingos are beautiful, not only for the pink-orange color that they get from the little shrimp that they eat but also because they are one of the best dancers. The male leader of the flock starts moving the head from one side to the other, then soon the other males will follow him, one step to the front and another to the back, moving rhythmically they synchronize their display. The females will start approaching to observe and also to pick a partner, then little by little the dance will vanish. The couples will start their courtship that involves loud honks and neck interactions, to finally mate. Eventually, the females will lay a single egg on a pile of mud at the edges of the brackish lagoon.
Isabela Island has five and a half volcanos, Ecuador Volcano (the half volcano) is the only one without giant tortoise species. Most of the giant tortoises species had need the help of the breeding center to recover their numbers. Alcedo and Wolf species are probably the only ones that are reproducing with a little success in nature, in comparison with the others. The threat is the introduced animals like goats, rats and cats that had been altering their habitat or hunting the baby tortoises. The north part of Isabela nowadays is recovering from goats, about 100,000 were hunted between 2004-2006.
The unusual shell shape of these tortoises made them famous in the Arnaldo Tupiza Tortoise Breeding Center. The species Chelonoidis guntheri is from the widest volcano in Isabela Island, Sierra Negra. Their distribution is mainly to the south of the volcano with a small overlap to the southwest with Cerro Azul Volcano. The Chelonoidis guntheri have two shape shells: dome and flat-dome (aplastados), there isn't any explanation why some are flatter than others. In the Breeding Center, there is a male whose shell could hold a glass of water like a table.
Scientists had identified recently 11 subspecies of the marine iguana. One of the biggest is the “Godzilla” variety, Amblyrhynchus cristatus, which is distributed only in the north part of San Cristobal. Followed by the impressive size of the A. cristatus from Isabela and Fernandina Islands, this couldn't be as long (about 1 m. 3.2 ft) as the “Godzilla” but they can be the heaviest because on this side of the islands the waters are coldest, thanks to the influence of Cromwell under-current that benefits the increase of the productivity levels of the Ulva sp., the main resource of food for the marine iguanas.
In 1832 Ecuador claim the Galapagos Islands as part of its territory, because of the abundance of the dyer moss, an expensive lichen. This business didn't last, so the islands were used as a prison. After the failure of the penal colony in Floreana, another attempt happened in Isabela, between 1945 to 1959. About 7 km from Puerto Villamil there is a wall of tears, the saddest infrastructure, ever made on these beautiful islands. Many prisoners were forced to build it, by carrying heavy lava rocks from the coast and several of them died. When a big revelion took place in 1959, some of the prisoners stay to settle in this place. But only one year after, in 1960, the biggest tsunami ever hit this part of Isabela (it came from Chile), caused that only a few families survived and is because of this extreme event, sand can be found two to three blocks inland.
Isabela Island, Ecuador
The order of the activities may be different since the itinerary of each tour depends on the permissions of the GNPS.
- Main dock of Puerto Ayora at 6:30 am
- Departure Time
- 7:00 am
- Return Time
- 5:00 pm
- Not Included
Isabela Municipality tax: 10 USD per foreigner tourist and 5 USD to ecuadorians.
Aqua-taxi: about 1.5 USD
Main dock of Puerto Ayora at 6:30 am.