Vacationing in the Galapagos Islands is a dream shared by countless outdoor adventurers and wildlife enthusiasts. Like any vacation, a trip to this Darwinian dreamscape can be planned on a fairly limited budget, after all the biggest attractions are naturally occurring and available to anyone with a little ambition and a good pair of shoes. There are even beachfront areas allowing camping with park permission which can take the heat off your wallet. One of the most promising items to pack is a decent snorkel and mask–snorkeling opportunities abound.
Las Tijeritas is one of the best places for bird watching in the Galapagos Islands and within walking distance of Port Baquerizo Moreno, the former home of a fishing community named La Predial and in operation between 1952 through 1960. Approach to Las Tijeritas is via the main avenue leading to Playa Mann. There’s a 5.6 kilometer hike here–easily done without a guide–which showcases some of the fantastic outdoor island scenery. The loop varies in elevation and there’s a great cove on route to enjoy some snorkeling and cool off from hiking in the hot sun. The cove is home to several species commonly found in the Galapagos Islands including sea lions, a wide variety of birds, and turtles. The main attractions is the Frigate bird colony; this is one of the only island spots you’ll witness two nesting colonies in the same place.
The Jacinto Gordillo Giant Tortoise Breeding Center on Isabela Island is the perfect place to spend a morning or afternoon in the company of the monstrous turtles the Galapagos Islands have become famous for. The onsite museum is a well-planned education center where visitors can learn about the mating process and also see baby tortoises. To get there, walk through the wetlands of the town, which is an interesting experience in itself. The route winds through the wetlands, passing pink flamingos and sunbathing iguanas, some quite large in size. The tortoise center is located in a thick, lush forest, a natural habitat of the giant animals. Jacinto Gordilla’s mission began following a severe decline of the giant tortoise population; the center allows turtles to live in a natural habitat cordoned off for protection from predators.
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