Santa Cruz Highland & Las Bachas, 10/19/2021, National Geographic Endeavour II
National Geographic Endeavour II
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.
Patricio, better known as Pato amongst his friends, was born in the Galápagos Island. His family moved to the islands from the mainland and settled on the island of Santa Cruz over thirty-five years ago. Pato had an enchanted childhood in the islands...
Carlos was born in Quito, Ecuador and grew up in Venezuela, where he lived for many years near the ocean and later the rainforest. He returned to Quito to study biology and specialized in the fauna of Ecuador. His main field of study was zoology with...
Today was our first full day in the Galapagos. We had a sunny morning with perfect conditions to enjoy aquatic activities in the clear, turquoise waters of Gardner Bay. Sea lions and rays accompanied us. An afternoon hike at Punta Suarez took us through a colony of nesting Nazca boobies.
Today is our last day in paradise after an adventure that seems unreal. We are from different backgrounds, but we have bonded as one. The Galapagos brings magic to our souls and minds. From Fernandina to San Cristobal, the youngest and one of the oldest islands in the archipelago, we have been on an expedition, a journey of discovery through time. Today we landed on San Cristobal Island with its green olivine beach. The volcanic scenery we observed during our intense hike was spectacular. The peaks of tuff high in the sky make this site very unusual. It was different than what we observed on other islands. It was a moment that will live in our hearts forever. Punta Pitt has impressive scenery from up above. We could immediately feel the heat and humidity. All our senses were heightened as we took in our surroundings while searching for red-footed boobies. We were lucky to see them up-close. Soon after, it was beach time. We played with sea lions and observed as they played with each other on the beach. We repositioned to Cerro Brujo for our last walk over a white sand beach, and we enjoyed the turquoise ocean and the sea lions. What a wonderful way to say goodbye to the Galapagos. Today was particularly special, and the ocean was magical. We boarded the ship at sunset and passed by Kicker Rock, an impressive and massive tuff formation along the shoreline. We are now together in the lounge celebrating life as frigatebirds fly nearby like they are saying goodbye. Today is our last full day on the islands. We made it to the Galapagos, and it was not easy. We have a deep appreciation for the islands and were honored to enjoy this unforgettable experience. We hope to make a positive change in this wonderful world of ours. Our expedition is now over. Life goes on, but we know this place changes many lives, this place that can never be fully described. We all came from different backgrounds to share in a magic that will exist in our minds forever. “We must rethink our indoctrinated knowledge, the methodical saying ‘don’t humanize the animals’ and instead ‘animalize the human’ by perceiving our surroundings with all our senses; embracing nature with our true-spirit by coexistence and respect for one another, so we can become one with nature as we once were.” Celso Montalvo Farewell amigos.
Today we arrived at Santa Cruz, the second largest island in the archipelago. Here we found the Fausto Llerena Breeding Center, where giant tortoises are bred in captivity to increase wild populations. After walking through the breeding center, we went into town to explore the streets, visit the cafes, and purchase local handcrafts. Towards the end of the morning, we went to the highlands. We spent time at two farms, where local people grow coffee, sugarcane, cocoa, and other crops. In the afternoon, we looked for the giant tortoises that pass by the local farms on their way to breeding and nesting areas. We found several males, females, and juveniles in the area.