Day 7 – Riding to the Wall of Tears

After waking up to the crashing of the waves and enjoying a leisurely morning, we rented bikes through our hotel and set off to explore the island on our way to the famous Wall of Tears. All the research I had done before the trip had told me that this stretch of road was the one where you were most likely to see giant tortoises in the wild. And sure enough, we did see some – the first one was right next to the sign telling us to be careful with giant tortoises! It’s like he knew to be there!

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After stopping to visit with him, we kept biking. Along the road to the Wall of Tears, there are about a dozen side roads that lead you to other natural areas of significance. We were told it was a good idea to bike all the way to the Wall of Tears first, and then stop at everything else on the way back. So bike we did until we finally came to the infamous wall.

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Why is it called the Wall of Tears? Well apparently there was once a penal colony on this island, and to keep the prisoners occupied, they made them build this stone wall that served no other real purpose. At the top of the wall, there were phenomenal views of the entire island which is really just harsh, untamed wilderness. On a gloomy day like this one was at times, it seemed particularly unforgiving.

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These panoramas are each about a dozen photos stitched together.

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The road in the photo above is the one that we had to bike along to get to the Wall. As we were leaving the Wall, we heard some motion in the bushes. We looked a little harder and sure enough, we spotted a giant tortoise just hanging out and very well camouflaged.

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A little later, we found one that was a little more in the open.

20140618-Isabela16On one of our side trips, we found a beautiful little marsh full of avian wildlife.
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We watched this night heron for several minutes as he stalked the marsh and eventually caught his prey.

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Our next side trip took us through a beautiful corridor of mangrove trees before opening up onto a secluded cove where we had a friend waiting to play with us!

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It was such a wonderful experience to be all alone with a wild and playful sea lion, I got in and swam around a little bit in the cove, being careful not to touch the sea lion.

Our last side trip took us back to the main island beach, but to get there, we had to negotiate with the gatekeepers of the path. They drove a hard bargain but it was worthwhile for the view at the end!

20140618-Isabela1120140618-Isabela12 20140618-Isabela15As you can see in the photo above, its very difficult to shoot a panoramic shot when there are moving waves in the photo. Pretty much impossible to stitch photos together with waves. But you certainly get the idea!

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