San Cristóbal Island
By kkeps @ 2009-12-17 12:40:43
San Cristóbal (Chatham) is the easternmost island in the Galápagos archipelago, and one of the oldest geologically.
Its Spanish (and official) name "San Cristóbal" comes from the Patron Saint of seafarers, "St. Christopher." Its older English name of Chatham is that of William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham.
San Cristóbal has an area of 558 km² and its highest point rises to 730 meters. The capital of the archipelago, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, lies at the south-western tip of the island. Two airlines fly directly to San Cristobal airport from Guayaquil, Ecuador; flights from Quito stop for passengers in Guayaquil.
This island hosts frigate birds, Galapagos sea lions, giant turtles, blue and red footed boobies, tropical birds, marine iguanas, dolphins, swallow-tailed seagulls. Its vegetation includes Calandrina galapagos, Lecocarpus darwinii, trees such as Lignum vitae, Matazarna. In the waters nearby are sharks, rays, and lobsters.
The largest fresh water lake in the archipelago, Laguna El Junco, is located in a crater in the highlands of San Cristóbal, in the southern half of the island. The lake harbors a large population of birdlife, but reaching the lake requires a short uphill walk. Nearby, La Galapaguera is a breeding station and sanctuary for giant tortoises.
Island tourism sites nearer the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno include the Cerro Tijeretas, a nesting colony for Frigate birds and a statue of Charles Darwin, marking the original site where he first disembarked in the Galápagos Islands during the voyage of the Beagle, on 16 September 1835. La Loberia, a colony of sea lions, lies about ten minutes by bus from the town.
Local boat tours also take visitors to two popular nearby dive sites. "Kicker Rock" (the Spanish name is "Léon Dormido") represents the remains of a lava cone, now split in two. "Isla Lobos" (sea lion island) is also a nesting site for blue-footed boobies.