|We were up early and very excited about going to the Galapagos. On the plane we could see the large, flat islands dotted across the pacific and Tara couldn't sit still! We touched down on Baltra Island just north of Santa Cruz: the view while we waited to have our passports stamped was breathtaking. We caught our buses and ferry to Puerto Ayora, the town on Santa Cruz, and began our exploring. There was lots to see in the three nights that we stayed: the Darwin Research Centre was great, with loads of information about the animals of the Galapagos as well as a breeding ground for the endemic giant tortoises. The oldest tortoise there was about 160 years old and not tiny! (Lonesome George was hiding though - we're planning to come back to see him before we leave). We spent a very relaxing day at the idyllic Tortuga bay - where else can you lie on powder white sand next to brown pelicans and great blue herons, watching marine iguanas strolling past, with none of them paying the slightest attention to you? It's a very special place. We had to drag ourselves away at closing time (we're definitely going back before we leave the islands!). We decided to visit Santa Cruz's highlands on bikes (which Da wasn't sure about!!) to see massive lava sink holes, giant tortoises in the wild and the very weird lava tunnels near Bellavista. We put the bikes on the roof of a local bus for the 20km journey to the lava sink holes. From there we explored all the sites (ignoring the bouts of pouring rain!). The rough 3km gravel road was worth it to see the giant tortoises in the wild - and they were good enough to let us know where they were by their calls: they sound surprisingly like cows!! The lava tunnels were also quite an experience - we were able to walk through a kilometre of the wide, wet, and often pitch black tunnels. On the morning of our departure for San Cristobal Island we took a water taxi to Playa Alemania and walked over the lava rocks to a place called Las Grietas. A large crack in the lava has filled with a mixture of fresh and sea water, and the result is a stunning oasis of deliciously cold, and crystal clear, emerald green water. Snorkling there and watching the sun-rays beaming through was indescribable.