Off the coast of Ecuador lies the Galapagos Islands & Isla de la Plata – the Poor Man’s Galapagos.
The Poor Man’s Galapagos can be reached on a day tour from the backpacker surf mecca of Montanita, or directly from the fishing village of Puerto Lopez 45km away.
From Montanita, the tour price was around US$35-40 – DIY travel isn’t possible, you must have a guide on the island.
A 90min speedboat whisks you to the island where dozens of hermit crabs await upon disembarkation.
Isla de la Plata is part of Parque Nacional Machalilla, home to a large diversity of species including the South American sea lion, dolphins and, particularly, sea birds. Humpback whale watching is popular from June to October, though the year round attraction is the whimsical Blue Footed Booby.
Blue Footed Boobies are easily recognizable by their distinctive blue feet, a trait of sexual selection as the level of brightness is linked to the health of the booby.
The blue of the booby’s webbed feet comes from pigments obtained from its diet of fresh fish.
Also, as part of an elaborate mating ritual, males lift their feet up and down while strutting before a female.
There are various hiking trails around the island, the route for the day dependent on the guide, companions, weather & animals/birds in season.
We took a very easy walk, encountering many Blue Footed Boobies: young & old, dead & alive, injured & in embryo.
No one likes dead boobies:
Blue Footed Boobies usually lay between 1-3 eggs at a time:
The rugged coastline offers good scuba diving & snorkeling in the summer:
This Blue Footed Booby was entangled in a piece of wire, removed by the guide:
Though half of all breeding boobies nest on the Galapagos Islands, there are plenty of boobies on Isla de la Plata. Oh male boobies are about 80cm tall, female boobies are bigger (obviously) at around 90cm in height.
Frigate birds are also common, though none were seen on this day.
Here’s a snap from the internet of this incredible bird I didn’t see:
I never went to the Galapagos, but the Poor Man’s Galapagos lived up to its name. The Blue Footed Booby is so god damn cute but the island doesn’t have much else to offer. It was an expensive day for Ecuador but I guess the moral of the story is, boobies are always worth paying for.
Impossible or illegal DIY travel
18 November 2013