Isla San Cristóbal Things to Do

  • Cerro Las Tijeretas/Frigatebird Hill
    Cerro Las Tijeretas/Frigatebird Hill
    by MalenaN
  • Cerro Las Tijeretas/Frigatebird Hill
    Cerro Las Tijeretas/Frigatebird Hill
    by MalenaN
  • Things to Do
    by MalenaN

Most Recent Things to Do in Isla San Cristóbal

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    Cerro Brujo

    by MalenaN Updated Apr 2, 2014

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    The beach at Cerro Brujo
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    After breakfast, on the third day of the cruise with Cachalote, we visited Cerro Brujo, or in fact it was the beach below the hill Cerro Brujo that we visited. It was a lovely place! There were no other visitors but our small group there and it was very tranquil. The white sandy beach was beautiful and we walked back and forth for a while looking at all the Ghost Crabs running fast. We also saw Sally Lightfoot Crabs, Sea Lions and a Brown Pelican. In one of the small tidal pools on the rocks by the sea we saw a small octopus. Off shore, further out, you can see the rock formation called Kicker’s Rock.

    Then we snorkelled along the rocks. First the visibility was not so good, but rounding a corner the visibility got very good. While snorkelling we saw among other things: a sea lion, parrot fish, Mexican hogfish, yellow tailed surgeonfish, sergeant major, hieroglyphic hawkfish, wrasses, a big school of sardines, a big school of black striped salemas and cardinal fish in a small cave.

    I would have loved to stay longer here.

    Cerro Brujo means Warlock Hill and it has got its name from the Vermilion Flycatcher, a small red and black bird that is called Pájaro Brujo in Spanish. The Vermilion Flycatcher used to be seen on the hill, but now they are very rare there. Another explanation of the name is that Cerro Brujo has got its name from the shape of the hill, which is supposed to look like a witch hat. Cerro Brujo is an eroded tuff cone, but I don’t think it looks like a witch hat..

    There is a lagoon at Cerro Brujo, which we didn’t visit. There several species of birds can be observed and in past times locals from the island used to collect salt here to use when preserving food.

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    Galapaguera de Cerro Colorado

    by MalenaN Updated Apr 2, 2014

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    Young tortoises at Galapaguera
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    After lunch we took the panga from Cachalote back to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, where a bus waited for us to take us to Cerro Colorado Galapagos Breeding Station, Galapaguera. Galapaguera is situated on the south-eastern side of the islands, about 22km away from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. The road there is passing through the highlands.

    At Galapaguera the San Cristobal Giant Tortoise (Geochelone chatamensis) is kept in large corals where the environment resembles their natural habitat. There used to be a population of Giant Tortoises in the south part of the island but it got extinct long ago when whalers took them as supplies to their boats. Now there is only a population in the northeast part of the island, but this population is threatened by introduced animals like rats, cats and wild goats. At Galapaguera collected eggs are kept in dark boxes for 30 days and then they are incubated for 90-110 days, at 24°C for males and at 28° for females. After hatching the juvenile tortoises are kept in growing pens for two years before they are taken to their natural habitat in the northeast part of San Cristóbal.

    There is a visitor centre and a 900m long trail to walk at Galapaguera. We walked around together with our guide Darwin who explained everything to us, but if you come here on your own you will find information boards around the trail. The vegetation is typical for dry forest and among other plants we saw San Cristóbal Sunflower, Galapagos Cotton and Manzanillo (Poisonous Apple Tree). Among the birds that we saw there were Mockingbird, Ground Finch and Woodpecker Finch.
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    Update 2013: I visited Galapaguera again when I was doing a daytrip by bike on Isla Santa Cruz. To me there seemed to be fewer tortoises in the small corrals where the young tortoises are kept, than when I had visited two years previous. When I walked the trail this time I didn’t see any big tortoises at all. I guess I was just unlucky.

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    El Junco Lagoon

    by MalenaN Updated Apr 2, 2014

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    Miconia vegetation along the path to El Junco
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    After visiting Galapaguera we went to El Junco Lagoon in the highlands of Isla San Cristóbal. El Junco is a freshwater lake, one of few in Galapagos Islands and it is a good supplier of water for the inhabitants on the island. The lake gets its water from rainwater. The diameter of the lake is 270m and the maximum depth is only 6m. El Junco is situated in an extinct crater at an altitude of 700m above sea level.

    There is a trail around the rim and from the car park and back it is 1.4km long. When it is clear the views from here are supposed to be great, but when we visited it was very misty and it rained a little, which is common at this altitude. We only got a glimpse of the lake.

    If it is clearer you will probably see the Frigatbirds that come here to wash the salt of their wings. Several species of wading birds can also be seen here and seven species of Darwin Finches has been recorded.

    Along the path up to the crater rim we could see the endemic Miconia vegetation (Miconia robinsoniana). It is a typical plant in the highlands but the introduced aggressive blackberry and guava are causing sever damage to the Miconias. There were also lots of Bracken Fern growing along the path.
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    Update 2013: I visited El Junco in July 2013 again. This time I came alone and I arrived by bicycle. It was more orange in the landscape (see photos in the travelogue) and there was a better view over the lagoon, but it was not all clear. This time I didn’t walk around the lagoon, but I took a shorter path down to the lagoon, and then up again.

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    Puerto Chino

    by MalenaN Written Mar 31, 2014

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    Puerto Chino, San Cristobal
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    Puerto Chino is situated on the southeastern coast of Isla San Cristobal. I cycled here, across the island, from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. It took more than two hours. From the parking there is a 656m long trail to the small beach (Playa Brava) and viewpoint at Puerto Chino. Along the trail you will see the typical vegetation of the arid zone, plants like Palo Santo, Opuntia Cactus, Matazarno and Manzanillo. And you might see lava lizards and finches as well.

    The beach is rather small, but the water looked inviting. Unfortunately I hadn’t brought my swimwear and snorkel equipment. However, there is a sign saying that there are currents in the water, so be careful if you swim.

    On the beach there was a few sea lions lying and above the beach (to the north) there were nesting pelicans. From the cliffs on the other side of the beach there is a great view over the coast. Here I saw blue footed boobies and finches. In the water below I could see a ray.

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    Rent a bike

    by MalenaN Written Mar 29, 2014

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    Parking at El Junco
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    One day on San Cristobal I rented a bike from Patagonia Eco Multisport on Av Charles Darwin in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno to go to Puerto Chino, Galapagera and El Junco. The price in July 2013 was:
    1 hour - $6
    half a day (less than 6h) - $10
    full day (more than 6h) - $20

    I left Puerto Baquerizo Moreno around 10 o’clock. The road was mostly going quite steep uphill, it is not paved and the first part was rather dusty. Closer to El Progreso it got misty and it started to drizzle. Because of the drizzle it felt quite cold in the highlands. Because the road was mostly going uphill the first half I sometimes walked with the bike. From Puerto Baquerizo Moreno they sometimes organize biking tours, but then they go with pick-up cars to the highlands, and only bike downhill.

    Before leaving Puerto Baquerizo Moreno I had heard there was a restaurant where I could eat in the village Cerro Verde, so I planned to stay there on my way to Puerto Chino. When I found the restaurant it turned out they hadn’t got any food jet, but they were preparing for tourists who were coming later. I could order a meal to eat on my return from Puerto Chino and Galapagera. I did so, but as I was very hungry I got two bananas and juice (it is included in the meal) before I continued. Now it was mostly downhill the rest of the way to Puerto Chino.

    I came back to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno around 17.00. As no one had written down when I rented the bike they charge me for half a day. To cycle across the southern part of Isla San Cristobal, over the highlands can be quite strenuous because it is mostly steep uphill and steep downhill. On this page I have made separate tips about the places I visited; Puerto Chino, Galapaguera and El Junco.

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    Cerro Las Tijeretas/Frigatebird Hill

    by MalenaN Written Mar 29, 2014

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    Cerro Las Tijeretas/Frigatebird Hill
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    Behind the Interpretation Centre in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno a paved path that will take you up on Cerro Las Tijeretas start. It is well marked and there are even a few benches at some places. There are a few viewpoints with lovely views over the sea and bay below. At one of the viewpoints three is a statue of Charles Darwin.
    And around another viewpoint there were quite a few Frigatebirds in the trees. In the bay below there is good snorkeling from the rocks. I did not snorkel here but the water looked very clear and there were sea lions playing in the water.

    From Cerro Las Tijeretas a path is leading down to Playa Punta Carola, and if you continue over the hill to the north you can walk to Playa Baquerizo.

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    Interpretation Centre

    by MalenaN Written Feb 23, 2014

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    Interpretation Center, Isla San Cristobal
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    On the north edge of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno there is an Iterpretation Centre. Here you can read about the geology of Galapagos Islands, how the islands where created. There is also information about the flora and fauna, and the human history of the islands. Arial photos show that about 50 years ago there were only a few houses where the four towns of Galapagos are today.

    The Interpretation centre is open 8 – 18 daily. There is no admission.

    There were no other visitors there when I visited.

    After visiting the Interpretation Centre I took the path which begins there, leading up to Cerro Las Tijeretas (Frigatebird Hill).

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    Playa Mann and Playa Punta Carola

    by MalenaN Written Feb 23, 2014

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    Playa Punta Carola
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    Two small beaches just north of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno are Playa Mann and Playa Punta Carola.

    Playa Mann is a small sandy beach about 1km north of the pier in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. It is situated along the road to the Interpretation Centre and Cerro Las Tijeretas (Frigatebird Hill). At Playa Mann you can swim and snorkel near the beach, but waves can be quite large. On the beach there are sea lions. When I passed the first time, just after lunchtime, the beach was quiet, but when I returned from Frigatebird Hill a few hours later it was full of activities on the beach.

    A path leads down from Cerro Las Tijeretas to Playa Punta Carola (you can also come here from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno by following a path along the coast). Playa Punta Carola is a nice white sandy beach where there is a sea lion colony. While I visited a male was showing off himself.

    At the rocky point at the end of the beach there is a small lighthouse.

    It is a nice place to come to observe the sea lions, watch some birds and the ocean. You can also swim and snorkel here

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    La Lobería and Barranco

    by MalenaN Written Feb 22, 2014

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    La Lober��a, San Cristobal
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    La Lobería and Barranco
    La Lobería is a beach a few kilometers south of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. There is both black lava rocks and white sand at La Lobería. In the water you can snorkel and swim, and often La Lobería is a good place for surfing as well. On the beach there is a sea lion colony and around the shore you might see brown pelicans and other sea birds. The vegetation in the area consists of sesuvium, morning glories, salt bush, mangroves, yellow grieger (Cordia lutes) and palo verde.

    Beyond the beach at La Lobería a path continues over the rocks to a viewpoint on the cliffs (Barranco). Along part of the trail there is no path but the trail goes over the lava rocks and it is there marked with small black and white sticks. I saw several Marine Iguanas here and they blend in very well with the surroundings, so be careful where you put your feet if you are walking here. There are also Lava Lizards along the trail.

    At Barranco the waves crush in to the rocks below and along the cliff several seabirds are flying back and forth. At Barranco I saw Blue-footed Boobies, Swallow-tailed Gulls, Frigatebirds and Red-billed Tropicbirds. On the way back to the beach I also saw a Cattle Egret and a Smooth-billed Ani.

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    Snorkeling tour to Isla Lobos and Kicker’s Rock

    by MalenaN Written Feb 22, 2014

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    Kicker's Rock
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    It was late Friday afternoon and I was on my way to the pier when I realised that I had to book a snorkeling tour to Kicker’s Rock for the next day, as I had signed up for a 10km race organised by the marine on Sunday morning.

    I went into the first agency I saw (Galeducation) and they told me they were fully booked for Saturday but still had space on Sunday morning. I went to a couple of more agencies. At one they told me they were fully booked both on Saturday and Sunday, but they could put me on a waiting list for Sunday. I quickly went back to the first agency to book the snorkeling tour for Sunday (the race was starting as early as 7am and the tour at 9am).

    The price of the tour was $80 (July 2013) and we were going to snorkel at Isla Lobos and at Kicker’s Rock (Leon Dormido). We were also going to visit the beach Playa Puerto Grande. The boat was Cindy Sol, a small boat and with eight tourists on board it was crowded. There was a tiny bathroom, but the toilet was not working. Lunch and snorkeling equipment (including wetsuit) was included in the price.

    After the race I had run Sunday morning I was in a hurry to be at the agency at 9am. I had tried out the snorkeling equipment already the day before so it was ready. At the pier there were many boats leaving and we didn’t leave until it was almost 10am.

    After 30 minutes we arrived to Isla Lobos, a small rocky island just off the coast of San Cristobal. Here the snorkeling is mostly over sandy bottom and you will probably see several playful Sea Lions around you, like I did. Along the rocky shore of Isla Lobos you will also see some colourful tropical fish. It was of course a pleasure to see all the playful sea lions, as always, but it was very cold (probably more cold because I didn’t feel well).

    We then continued to Kicker’s Rock (Leon Dormido), known to be an excellent dive and snorkeling site, and the place I most of all wanted to visit during this tour. Unfortunately I had been freezing all the way from Isla Lobos so I asked the guide where it was best to go if I couldn’t stay in the water for a long time. The others didn’t seem to be very experienced snorkelers and had all stayed in a crowded around the guide at Isla Lobos (and did so at Kicker’s Rock too). I went straight for the narrow canal between the rocks. It is a beautiful place with vertical rocks down to the bottom on two sides. I saw some King Angelfish, other colourful tropical fish and a turtle, but the highlights were all the Galapagos Sharks (they were far away, close to the bottom though) and a large school of Porcupine Fish, so beautiful.

    When everyone was back on board we headed for Playa Puerto Grande. I had thought we were going to eat lunch on the beach but we did that in the boat. Playa Puerto Grande is a small white sandy beach and it looked very inviting. I was not interested in swimming (as I was not feeling well and at this time probably had fever), but I wanted to stroll around, looking for birds and just admiring the landscape. Unfortunately the boat did not go very close to the shore (they said it was not possible, but I’m not sure) and the water was deeper than up to the waist. Everyone said that they wanted to go to the beach, but no one wanted to get completely wet again (up to the knees would have been fine). We never visited the beach and that was a big disappointment.

    When I had asked around at the agencies for a tour they had at one agency told me that they are not allowed to visit two snorkel sites in one tour anymore, and I think that is good. We snorkeled at two sites and that made everyone very, very cold. And visiting both snorkeling sites was actually against the rules.

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    Puerto Baquerizo Moreno

    by MalenaN Updated Dec 22, 2013

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    Puerto Baquerizo Moreno
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    Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on Isla San Cristóbal has got a population of more than 5000 inhabitants and it is the second largest town on Galapagos Islands, only Puerto Ayora on Isla Santa Cruz is bigger.

    2011: We came here on the third day of the cruise with M/S Cachalote. Before lunch, while our guide went to the airport to pick up two new passengers, we got some time to walk around in the town on our own. We got another opportunity to do that before dinner, when we came back from a visit to the breeding centre and El Junco Lagoon.

    Puerto Baquerizo Moreno seems to be a pleasant town to spend some time in. Around Avenida Charles Darwin, the street facing the sea, and the malecon, looks clean and tidy and here you find several hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops and travel agencies. There is also an Internet place.

    2013: This year I came back to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and San Cristobal and stayed for five nights.

    There are plenty of things to do just around the town. There is a Galapagos National Park Interpretation Centre with exhibitions about the natural history and biodiversity of Galapagos Islands. There are some walking trails leading to small beaches and good snorkeling spots. One trail will take you up on Frigate Bird Hill (Cerro de las Tijeretas) were you can see frigate birds. Following some of the trails will also give you good opportunities to see sea lions and land iguanas. During my stay in 2013 I also rented a bike one day and another day I went on a snorkeling tour. Surfing and diving is said to be good near Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, but that is nothing I tried.

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    Sally Lightfoot Crab

    by MalenaN Updated Dec 21, 2013

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    Sally Lightfoot Crab
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    The beautiful Sally Lightfoot crabs (Grapsus grapsus) can be seen all over the shores of the Galapagos Islands. With its bright orange colour it stands out from the black lava rocks where you often see them. The young ones are dark in colour though, and this make them well camouflaged on the rocks. The adult crabs can be as big as 20cm. Sally Lightfoot crabs eat algae and small animals. Like other crabs they are moving fast and will run away if you come too close.

    The Sally Lightfoot crabs are not only found on Galapagos Islands, but can be found along the American Pacific coast from Peru in the south to Mexico in the north.

    The Sally Lightfoot crab in picture 1-4 was walking on the beach at Cerro Brujo on Isla San Cristóbal. The Sally Lightfoot crabs in picture 5 are on the lava rocks along the shore in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.

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    Mockingbirds

    by MalenaN Updated Dec 21, 2013

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    Mockingbird
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    When Charles Darwin visited Galapagos Islands in 1835 he noticed that the Mockingbirds looked a bit different on different islands, and that is something that influenced his thoughts of evolution.

    There are four different species of Mockingbirds and they are all endemic. One is the Charles (Floreana) Mockingbird an endangered species that can only be found on the two small islands Champion and Gardner just off Floreana. Then there is the Chatham (San Cristóbal) Mockingbird that lives on Isla San Cristóbal and it is quite uncommon. On Isla Española the Hood Mockingbird is common, and common on the other islands is the Galapagos Mockingbird.

    The mockingbirds have a grey and brown plumage with a white belly, and their length is 25-28cm. The bill is long, thin and black.

    Mockingbirds can be found in dry forests- and shrubland areas. They are omnivours and often prey on seabird eggs, insects, young finches or small Lava Lizards.

    The Mockingbird in the photo is a Galapagos Mockingbird that I saw at Darwin Bay on Isla Genovesa. The Galapagos Mockingbird has a darker brown colour than the other Mockingbird species on the Galapagos Islands and it has a quite broad white collar. There are six subspecies of the Galapagos Mockingbird and the one on Isla Genovesa is called Nesomimus parvulus bauri.

    The Mockingbird in the first photo was sitting in the top of a tree at Galapaguera, Isla San Cristóbal. In the second photo there is a Mocking Bird that I saw along the path to El Junco, and the Mocking Bird in the third photo was on the path up to Frigatebird Hill. The Mocking Bird in photo 4 and 5 is also seen at El Junco (but different year than the one in photo 2).

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    Brown Pelican

    by MalenaN Updated Dec 21, 2013

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    The brown Pelican can be found in many areas along the American Pacific and Atlantic coasts, but on Galapagos Islands you will find the endemic subspecies Pelecanus occidentalis urinator. They can be found by the coast on most islands.

    The Brown Pelicans are large birds with a length of 105-152cm and a wingspan of 203-228cm. They have very long bills with an elastic pouch which they use when catching fish. The male and female look alike, but females are usually a little smaller. They have a greyish-brown plumage and they have a chestnut and white marking on neck and head when breeding. When not breeding the neck is more greyish. The juveniles have the same greyish-brown colour, but a paler/white belly. The feet are webbed.

    The Brown Pelican feeds on fish and crustaceans and they can often be seen plunge-diving from the air into the sea to catch their prey. Under the water they fill their bill with water and fish, and then filters the water and swallow the fish.

    The Galapagos Brown Pelican usually nest in mangroves and low bushes. They nest in colonies or individually. The female lay 2-3 eggs and they are incubated by both parents for about a month. They breed throughout the year.

    The pelicans can live as long as 30 years.

    The Pelican in the first photo was standing on the lava rock by the beach at Cerro Brujo, Isla San Cristóbal. In the background you can see Kickers Rock and M/S Cachalote.
    The pelican in the second and third photo is looking for food at La Lobería and the Brown Pelicans in photo 4 and 5 have their nest at Puerto Chino.

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    Lava Lizards

    by MalenaN Updated Dec 20, 2013

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    San Crist��bal Lava Lizards
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    Lava Lizards are endemic to the Galapagos Islands and there are seven different species. The Galapagos Lava Lizard (Microlophus Albemarlensis) can be seen on several islands, and then there are the Española Lava Lizard, Floreana Lava Lizard, Marchena Lava Lizard, Pinta Lava Lizard, Pinzón Lava Lizard and the San Cristóbal Lava Lizard. There is never more than one species on each island. The Lava Lizards are common in the dry areas near the coasts.

    Lava Lizards are between 15 - 30 centimetres long, and it is the Floreana Lava Lizard that is the smallest and the Española Lava Lizard that is the longest. Colour and marking varies between species and the habitat they are living in. And like other lizards they change colour because of temperature or if they feel threatened. But in general one can say that the males are larger than the females, and often have a brighter colour with a distinct pattern. When the males are mature they are brown/black under the throat, while mature females have an orange throat.

    Lava Lizards are active during the day. They are omnivores and feed on plants, but mostly eat insects. They can even eat baby lava lizards.

    We saw the two Lava Lizards in the first photo near the entrance of Galapaguera de Cerro Colorado, a tortoise breeding station on San Cristóbal (2011). So, being on San Cristóbal they are of the species San Cristóbal Lava Lizard. When I visited San Cristobal in 2013 I saw the Lava Lizard in photo 2-4 at La Lobería and the Lava Lizard in photo 5 at Puerto Chino.

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