Isla San Cristóbal

The Galápagos Islands

Sign: Bienvenidos a San Cristobal: Capital del paraiso  - 21Kb

On this trip, we flew into San Cristóbal airport, since Baltra airport's upgrading had run over time. This had involved quite an extensive re-jigging of the running order of our trip.

San Cristobal from offshore - 30Kb

The main town of San Cristóbal (fka Chatham), Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, despite the welcome to the 'Capital of Paradise', is currently pretty unprepossessing, although it is the administrative capital of the Galápagos province of Ecuador. It's clearly a growing town with lots of building work in evidence: its airport in normal times has an increasing number of arrivals, so some of the yachts are now operating out of here, so the town is gearing up more and more for tourists. There are hotels, cafes and shops and the national Park Service has provided an interpretative centre.
Nor is the town itself bereft of wildlife: while the birders in the group were inland looking for the Chatham Mockingbird (see below), Theresa and Judy 'hit the town' and saw the endemic San Cristóbal Lava Lizard, Microlophus bivattatus, which the rest of us missed! Then on the last morning, when we had some time in the town before being bussed back to the airport, Roger and Judy saw a Sea Lion giving birth!

The real reason for us visiting San Cristóbal, was to try to catch up with the island's endemic species of Mockingbird, the Chatham Mockingbird, Nesomimus melanotis. This involved a bus trip inland to its favoured habitat, but once there, it didn't take long for some serious 'pishing' to bring a few birds out to see who was acting daft.
According to a field guide, it is "similar in size and structure to Galápagos Mockingbird, but intermediate in plumage between that species and Hood Mockingbird. It shows a narrow white collar, prominent streaking on flanks and sides of breast, and a distinct dark malar stripe. Iris greenish." Hmmm. Luckily, it's only found here, and no other mockers are on the island!

San Cristóbal Mockingbird - 25Kb

Yellow Warblers - 29Kb

When I went to the airport loo, a Yellow Warbler Dendroica petechia aureola, flew in and perched on the light! We saw them everywhere on this trip.
Fittingly, after sitting for some time in the airport waiting for the plane to Quito at the end of the trip, just before I stood up to go into the departure lounge, a Yellow Warbler came, perched on the back of my chair, and 'cheeped goodbye'!

Medium Ground Finch - 31Kb

The Medium Ground Finch Geospiza fortis, is one of the 13 "Darwin's Finches" which are resident on the Galapagos islands.
The adult male is completely black but for white tips to its under-tail coverts.

After we had made a good 'stab' at the birds, we went on, more in hope than in expectation, to El Junco lagoon in the San Cristóbal highlands, which is the only freshwater lake on the islands: it is a rain-filled crater about 300, across and 6m deep. It's quite a hike up some steps and on a clear day it is doubtless worth it, but the mist was gathering when we reached the sign, and the visibility was very poor by the time we reached the lagoon.
This weather is typical of the garua (cool, 'dry'/misty) season. It is dryer and brighter in the Highlands in the hot, wet season.

Sign: El Junco - 20Kb
bridge - 25Kb

As in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz, there is some evidence of locally relevant art on the streets.

There was a population of Giant Tortoises at the south of San Cristóbal which has been extirpated, and another, which may be of a different race, in the north of the island.   >

Giant Tortoise Statue
Fisherman Statue

<  This statue reminds visitors that before the tourism boom, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno was a quiet fishing village.

The white, sandy beach adjacent to the promenade of Puerto Banquerizo Moreno, like most beaches of the archipelago, has its share of Galápagos Sea-Lions, which make for a nice late-afternoon shot to complete the page.

sealions - 24Kb

The Islands




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San Cristóbal

 > P. Baquerizo Moreno

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  Isabela  ¦   North Seymour  ¦   Santa Cruz  ¦   San Cristóbal  ¦   Santa Fé  ¦   Santiago

Text and images © Liz Leyden, 2008
Email: liz [at] v-liz [dot] com
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