Visiting Isla Santa Cruz in the Galápagos Archipelago

Las Grietas (The Crevices)

Marcie sits next to the rough chasm in the volcanic rock. You can see the startlingly blue water at the bottom. The right-hand picture is from a lower viewpoint to show more of the water.

More pictures from lower and lower viewpoints.

These rocks were partially submerged. Slight ripples and reflections distort the view of other underwater rocks.  

Here's a closer view of the ripples and reflections. The left-hand part of the picture is in the cliff's shadow, but the right-hand part has a bright reflection of the sky. Where the dark and light reflections meet, there's an interesting ripple pattern.  

Looking into the far recesses of the chasm where it appears to end.  

Monday, April 5, 2004 (Day 8 in the Galápagos Archipelago)

We had heard about a natural feature named Las Grietas (The Crevices) and today we decided to take a look. It's within walking distance of Puerto Ayora but is located on the other side of the anchorage from the town landing. This would be new territory for us, observed frequently from the boat but never before visited.

We rode the water taxi to a different landing, hopping from the surging boat to a wet stairway and climbing to the top of a rocky escarpment. This side of the bay was much less commercial, and we walked along a narrow gravel roadway through an area of comfortable-looking hotels and private residences and past a small beach bordered by clusters of mangroves. The path narrowed and headed inland, the terrain becoming rocky and bleak—a sun-scorched hell of stark salt pans and prickly cacti. The salt pans were used long ago to produce salt by the natural evaporation of seawater. Though abandoned the salt pans remain, filled with water stained pink by algae and surrounded by sparkling white crusts of crystallized sea salt. Further along the terrain changed to rocky brown hills interspersed with shallow green lagoons. The path then climbed a steep hill and presented us with a most unexpected sight.

Atop the hill, we looked out over a ragged chasm that split the volcanic landscape. In the depths of the chasm there was a tranquil pool of luminous turquoise water, making a slash of bright color inbetween stark volcanic cliffs. We stood on the cliffside peering over the edge, marveling at the bizarre contrast of colors and textures.

There was a stairway leading into the chasm so we descended to the bottom and scrambled over jumbled boulders to the water's edge. The water's surface was dappled with bright reflections and deep shadows; tiny ripples from the faint breeze caused dancing patterns that delighted the eye. In places we could see underwater rocks and ledges, their appearance distorted by the rippling water. A lumpy rock near the surface was swaddled in feathery algae; several small fish nestled in their algae featherbeds.

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