We are close to the end our trip, but the highlights keep coming. Many guests had been eagerly awaiting this day. Finally, we are exploring the highlands of Santa Cruz, home of the most iconic creature of Galapagos, the giant tortoises.

The territory is full of lush vegetation, where many freshwater ponds are formed here and there. The giant tortoises need this water to survive, and the grass and fruits to eat. In the past, pirates and early colonists slaughtered many of them for food, almost to point of extinction. Their populations are slowly bouncing back through conservation efforts.

On our way to see the giant tortoises, we stopped at Los Gemelos to explore volcanic formations called pit craters. Up here all the scenery is green. The atmosphere was overcast and foggy. In this cloud forest, one can find up to nine varieties of finches, plus mockingbirds, gallinules, crakes, warbles, doves, and flycatchers. Then it was time to visit the migration paths of the Galapagos giant tortoises and marvel at these astonishing prehistoric reptiles. Even as we sat down to lunch at an outdoor restaurant located in the preserve, we were surrounded by hundreds of tortoises feeding on grass.

In the afternoon, we returned to the National Geographic Endeavour II and headed immediately to Bowditch Point. There is a white sandy beach, a preferred nesting site for marine turtles. Some of us went for a swim while others walked along the beach, looking for a place to rest and contemplate their surroundings.

Later our Wellness Specialist Roxana led a relaxing stretching routine during a spectacular sunset. At six o’clock, we returned to our ship. Every day in the Galapagos is exceptional, a tonic of wildness to all of us!