Monday, February 10, 2014

Santa Cruz Highlands

A male yellow warbler providing an excellent view of his red crown

Our final day began with an early breakfast preceded by making sure our bags were packed and outside the room. Then we boarded the pangas for the final time for a trip to the Highlands of Santa Cruz Island. This was the most unusual experience we had on our trip as we were actually up about 1500 feet above sea level. One of the highlights of the Highlands is the giant tortoise. Unfortunately, they were not on our itinerary although I was able to see a couple of them resting on the road as we drove by. What we were able to see was the Scalesia Forest, a couple of pit craters, and a lava tube.

The Scalesia Forest is important to the ecology of the island as it traps water and supports several of the finch species along with the Vermilion Flycatcher and Yellow Warbler. The pit craters are volcanic in that they are collapsed magma chambers. 

The lava tube was at one time seven miles long and that is not an error. Today it is much less than that but still over 2000 meters. Unfortunately, some sections have collapsed, but it is still an amazing walk-through. It’s been many years since I have visited the Ape Caves on the south side of Mt. St. Helens, but as I remember that walk, we had to almost crawl through some sections. Here, we were in a tunnel large enough for those extra large trucks we pass on the freeway. Our van then returned us to the ferry ‘terminal’ where we boarded another boat to cross to our bus to the airport and our flight to Guayaquil. 

Ground Finch

Unlike other cruises we have taken, this is the only commercial establishment we saw.

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