A Highlands Bike Ride

(Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz, Galapagos)

At the recommendation of the Eventide crew we rose early today, rented bikes, and grabbed a cab up into the highlands of Santa Cruz. (Yes, we got a ride to the top of the island so that we could bike down. I promise you it wasn’t as easy as it sounds.)

The exceedingly nice lady at the bike rental shop had given us a little hand-drawn map with all the relevant sights plotted out. It was helpful in the way a child’s drawing of their family is. Acceptable enough to identify the number of siblings, ownership of a dog, or which way to turn. Not so helpful for size, scale, or where the turn is actually located.

Our first stop found us at the island’s famed Los Gemelos (Twin Craters) – absolutely massive sink holes that were created when the volcanic roof of empty magma chambers collapsed from tectonic shifts and erosion over time. Their immense size and severe nature wowed and chilled me. I was impressed and thoroughly put in my insignificant place. The same feeling I get when I stare out at the unending ocean. As we romped through the mossy trees between the twin sink holes I couldn’t help but think about the first person strolling through this forest to come across these wonders.

As we set out for the downhill town of Santa Rosa not a pedal was needed. Wheeling through the upper elevations of the island we were treated to stunning views of the coastline and ocean below. The advantageous decline had us soaring down the road putting my breaks through a rigorous test. I hadn’t even thought of the rental shops service history until Greg advised me to keep both wheels on the ground for fear of losing one. Like I was going to pop-a-wheelie or something?!

After a brief detour (read: not brief at all, actually quite long and absolutely littered with hills, but I’ll say brief because it was due to my determination that our destination was at the end of the road, not the beginning, that we had to sweat through it all, an affair that Greg was not so happy to take part in) we arrived at Rancho Primicias, a tortoise ranch.

Here we were able to walk around the open pasture and come face to face with Galapagos’ mighty reptile. Obviously not a speedy creature, these guys could surprise you if you took your eye off them. Mr Lively would be lounging under a tree over there, you’d pan over to watch Ms Rocket by the pond, and before you knew it Mr Lively would be on your tail. It’s obvious these giant land tortoises prescribe to the defensive living approach as opposed to the offensive one. If we would get too close they would disappear to the dark shelter of their shell and let out an unexpected, Darth Vader-esque hissing sound.

Back on our noble steeds we began the long, uphill ride back to the main road. On the way to the ranch we noted separate entrance and exit roads for a lava tunnel. It would be a one-way experience. So naturally, when we turned down the first and made our way into the tunnel’s depths we took our bikes with us. Turns out, lava tunnels aren’t so bike friendly. The first couple hundred meters were misleading and had us biking through a large, open, flat-bottomed passage. That quickly came to an end. Before long we were carrying our bikes as we negotiated our way over large jagged rocks and boulders. By the end we were sliding on our bellies through a muddy, slot-like opening were the roof came right down to meet the floor. Luckily, with a little strong-arming and tugging manoeuvres, the bikes just fit too.

Wonderfully dirty, and feeling like Indiana Jones, we emerged from the deeps and continued our bike ride through the highlands. We soared down the perfectly paved road, stopped into the town of Bellavista for deserved icecreams, and made our way back to Puerto Ayora. Being back in our air-conditioned room was nice enough, but standing in the hot shower for as long as my heart desired was the piece de resistance.

Not to let the day come to an end without another great memory – after we cleaned up we caught a water taxi out to Eventide where we had an amazing Easter dinner and coloured Easter eggs! Doesn’t matter how old you get, or where you are in the world, colouring Easter eggs is a damn good time.

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The first of the Twin Craters. If you look really hard you can see me standing on the white fence on the righthand side of the photo. This picture captures a tiny portion of these massive wonders.

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Sink hole selfie!

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A panorama attempt to fit it all in.

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Trekking through the mossy trees.

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Flying down the highlands.

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These teardrop flowers were everywhere.

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Cows – a stubborn creature no matter what country you’re in.

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Galapagos’ land tortoises are huge!

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He’s about to disappear and go all Darth Vader any moment.

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Greg’s always talking to the animals. I’m pretty sure they understand each other.

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As noted, lava tunnels aren’t for bikes.

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Stopped to find this owl on the side of the road to Bellavista.

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Greg is forever craving Slurpees. These sugar-filled snow cones come close to filling to void.

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Easter eggs with Eventide!

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