Santa Cruz is the second largest island in the Galapagos archipelago and one of the few places where it is possible to see giant tortoises in the wild. After landing, we boarded private buses to reach the highlands where they live. But first, we stopped in a cloud forest to examine the impressive geology of the Los Gemelos area. Several sink holes, or pit craters, are surrounded by many scalesia trees and other native vegetation. A short distance later, we entered giant tortoise territory. We saw so many of these iconic creatures that gave the Galapagos its name. Afterward, we headed to Las Bachas just a few miles away to enjoy the beautiful white sand beach where turtles lay their eggs. All day long, we were captivated by the beauty and wildlife of this very special place.
National Geographic Endeavour II
Santa Cruz Island
We have arrived at Santa Cruz Island. It is the first time this week that we have seen people on land, and this offered us a whole new perspective. We experienced the interactions between humans and the animals that live in the same territory, which started the minute we stepped off the main pier of Puerto Ayora. Sea lions were sleeping as we passed, blacktip sharks were swimming and feeding in the water, and brown pelicans were carrying out their daily duties. The animals were unbothered by the presence of people. It seemed like a story from a fairytale. Everything was so unexpected and so beautiful. We were excited to begin our day. We visited the National Park and Charles Darwin Research Headquarters, where we learned about the ongoing conservation efforts of these two institutions. We also learned about the natural history of giant tortoises, the main attraction on the island. We divided guests into two groups. Some of us explored the beautiful Ochoa Hydroponic Farm. The owner, Romer, explained the new techniques of agriculture in the Galapagos. The other group of guests visited El Trapiche Farm. They learned about the steps of a very old-fashioned but respectable way of farming. Guests were guided by the family in charge of this beautiful and simple sugarcane farm. Lunch was offered at Manzanillo Tortoise Farm. Right afterwards, we walked around to see the tortoises in the wild. We had the chance to take pictures and enjoyed spending time with these amazing animals in their habitat. Back on board, we enjoyed a visit by local artisans who worked on their crafts right in front of our eyes. We had opportunities to purchase the work. A group of local musicians and dancers delighted us with their music. Today was the very first time since the pandemic that we had the pleasure of having them perform inside the ship. It was certainly a wonderful way to finish this fantastic day on the “Indefatigable Island.”