Galapagos 2002 - 10 Feb - Puerto Velasco Ibarra, Floreana Is.

10 Feb, Afternoon
We disembarked in this dusty, sad, impoverished village, loaded into cattle trucks (literally) and then rode up into the highlands of Floreana Island. We drove through a bleak arid zone, but before we'd reached 400 meters elevation it was green and lovely. In the woods along a field, we saw a Paint-billed Crake, a moderately rare bird, while stalking a Vermilion Flycatcher. The dirt road had puddles, but we didn't see any rain.

We walked then, up to a tortoise preserve that was originally part of the Wittmer Farm. If you've lived in the Galapagos since the 1930's, apparently you are permitted to keep 600 pound Saddleback Tortoises as house pets. It's a nice enough facility, and the tortoises are even more tolerant of people than their wild cousins. One mid-sized tortoise nibbled my hiking shoe, leaving chew marks on the edge of the sole.

At the Wittmer Farm, itself the subject of strange legends and stories, we visited the natural spring - really a drip - above the farmhouse. There are caves carved in the soft volcanic tuft, reportedly by pirates, that look down the long slope of Cerro Paja, the central volcano of Floreana, to the Pacific. Someone still lives there in the farmhouse but Margaret Wittmer, we were told, died a few years ago.

A Saddleback Tortoise nibbles my shoe
Floreana Island
(Photo by Gillian Rose)

Vermilion Flycather, Wittmer Road
Floreana Island

Galapagos Flycatcher
Floreana Island

Vermilion Flycatcher
Medium Tree Finch
Galapagos Flycatcher
Cattle Egret
Smooth-billed Ani
Small Ground Finch
Paint-billed Crake
Small Tree Finch
Ruddy Turnstone
Brown Pelican
Magnificent Frigatebird
Great Frigatebird
Audubon Shearwater
Lava Lizard
Marine Iguana
Green Sea Turtle

Galapagos Sea Lion

Galapagos Map
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