Beautifully, Breathtakingly Desolate- Caleta Tagus, Galapagos Islands

This morning we walked on the lava fields of Isabella Island, next to the 2nd largest active volcano in the world, and one with the 2nd largest caldera (V. Cierra Azul and V. Sierra Negra) which was pretty incredible. I found it mind-blowing to think that the very ground beneath my feet had once been red-hot lava, bubbling out from an erupting volcano. 

There were 2 different types of lava field- the first nicknamed ‘ah-ah’ in Hawaiian because of the sharp intake of breath that follows standing on it! This was white-tipped, jagged magma solidified into lethal spikes. The other type rippled out like intestines and was fascinatingly named ‘the ropey magma’. 

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I wandered around there for a while until I found a natural lagoon field with a flock of flamingos, mangroves and poison apple trees. I sat and admired the view until the heat became too much for me and I retreated to the boat. The next excursion was a snorkelling trip which I, although rather tired, decided to join- a jolly good thing because we saw some incredibly rare sights. I saw a catshark lurking on the seabed directly below me, and got a shock when a tiny pink neon jellyfish appeared suddenly in front of me! There seemed to be thousands of different types of fish, including a huge eagle ray slowly meandering around the rocks. Julian, our guide, dived to the bottom and brought up a chocolate drop starfish and a larger, domed orange starfish. There was also a dark, spotted octopus on the seabed who seemed rather disgruntled to find big shadows being cast over his territory by us…

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I was thrilled to find four penguins swimming alongside us, but the highlight was undoubtedly when 2 flightless cormorants started casually fishing by us! I was told that when a NG group went scuba diving for 6 months, they only managed to get a couple of short films of these unusual birds fishing…and yet we had stumbled upon them unknowingly! I felt extremely lucky to have witnessed such a rare occurrence.

 

 

After a quick aperitif on the boat and many discussions about the amazing creatures we had just seen, we headed off for a walk at Caleta Tagus, which is the spot that the famous Beagle landed, hence the lagoon just over the hill that we soon found is named ‘Darwin’s Lagoon’ and the towering volcano nearby “Darwin’s Volcano’. The landscape there was beautiful, with dead looking ‘Christmas trees’ which produce sap that can be used as insect repellant and smells like Samba crossed with Citronella…lovely… 

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We hiked up a steep hill and admired the lava streaks down the sides of the volcano. We actually stood on a smaller volcano whose crater had collapsed with time. The sun was beginning to set and I felt really happy- I was exactly where I wanted to be, in this desolate yet breathtakingly beautiful landscape. 

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