Visiting Isla Santa Cruz in the Galápagos Archipelago

Inland Tour (continued)

 
Panoramic view of the crater at Los Gemelos. The crater was too big to capture in one picture so I stitched together four pictures. Unfortunately, the stitcher software wasn't able to align the pictures automatically, due to the very complex and detailed scene. I made this panorama manually, which explains the somewhat coarse alignment.  

 
We're hiking through a scalesia forest. Most of the trees are covered with epiphytes, which are small plants that attach themselves to the trees but are not parasites.

 
A type of passion flower.  


 
A close-up view of some epiphytes on a tree limb.  


 
Looking into the interior of the crater. We saw two people working in the crater, slashing away at vegetation with machetes. I assume they were removing invasive species, which is a huge and constant job as the park tries to restore some of the landscape.  

Leaving the ranch, we drove to a mirador (scenic view) and then on to Los Gemelos (The Twins). This spectacular natural feature started out as a vast underground chamber filled with molten lava. The surface hardened and the lava drained out, then at some point the roof of the chamber collapsed leaving behind a huge crater with vertical walls and a jumbled floor. By now the bottom of the crater is filled with vegetation. It's called The Twins because there are two craters, one on each side of the road.

Walking back to the road, we passed through a woodsy and green scalesia forest that looked like a tropical jungle (the scalesia is a tree unique to the Galápagos). Here in the highlands the climate is cooler and wetter, and it actually rained a little while we were walking.

Heading back to Puerto Ayora, we stopped at another smaller lava tunnel. From the entrance, we could see the proverbial "light at the end of the tunnel" and we didn't bother walking through.


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