Galapagos Islands Travel Blog

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Puerto Baquerizo Moreno

Travelers to the Galapagos can stroll around the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, pass by the statue of Darwin, go into a local cafe for a cool drink, and check out the small museum and the shops there.Your guide might arrange for the group to take a bus to the highlands.

Now that San Cristobal has an airport and a number of tours start and end there, the town is undergoing some rapid enhancement in its tourist-related facilities. Puerto Baquerizo Moreno also is the jumping-off point several small excursions to nearby islands. Isla Colon offers a dry landing, sea lions, and frigate birds. And Kicker Rock and Isla Lobos are impressive sites, often visited on the last afternoon before the departure from the airport at the village. Kicker Rock is a boat-based tour around these dramatic monoliths jutting out of the water. Isla Lobos is a brief land visit.

The Interpretation Center on San Cristobal, Galapagos

This center is a spectacular addition to the islands. It was inaugurated in August 1998. Its supporters included the Spanish government and the government of Ecuador. The center is on the edge of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, and it is reached by a short bus ride, arranged for you by your Galapagos travel guide. The center is wonderfully designed to tell the natural and human history of the islands and to serve as an active educational resource for visitors, island schoolchildren, and other residents. It is a beautiful, light, airy building, made of the local stone and wood to blend into the slightly hilly landscape on which it is located. You move easily from room to room, from era to era of archipelago history. The displays are stunning, with luminous portrayals of the geological evolution of the islands and colorful displays of land and marine life.

The human history is told through a combination of paintings, old photographs, and three-dimensional re-creations of early life on the islands. The horrendous story of the penal colony that existed for more than 150 years, until it was closed in 1954 when the appalling conditions there became known internationally, is riveting and dismaying at the same time. The intriguing story of some of the twentieth century’s distinctive immigrants from Europe, with broken dreams, divided loyalties, and suspected murders, is equally well told.

For a little break from the learning, take a few minutes to walk and travel outside the building along the boardwalks that extend from it into the surrounding thickets of Palo Santo and other dry, lowland vegetation. The wind sweeps up the hillside from the harbor, and you will have excellent views of the water a kilometers or so away.