Galapagos Cruise Report: Santa Cruz Island

From the National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos July 7, 2010

Today was a fantastic day in the charming paradise of the Galápagos Islands. As we disembarked at Academy Bay, where marine iguanas were swimming out to feed on the algae along the coast, we headed to one of the most interesting places in the world for conservation: the Charles Darwin Research Station. When we arrived, we were surprised by the amazing giant tortoises eating. They were everywhere on the platform, taking all the food that was placed there. Some of the males were even competing for food, and the way they opened their mouths at one another was just unbelievable. Continuing with the giant tortoises corrals, we got to see our very old friend Diego from Española Island. He was waiting right there at the entrance, as if he knew we were coming today. Once at the land iguana feeding area, one of the males was surprisingly hiding inside the cracks of the corral, and the way it blended with the stones was very interesting: it was very difficult to tell iguana from rock. After the iguana corrals, it was time to continue with a visit to the most famous celebrity in Galápagos: Lonesome George. He was sitting on the platform, just waiting for the rangers to give him something to eat. When they arrived with some food, the way he stood and walked to meet them was amazing. He looked as if he recognized each of them like school partners. As we left Lonesome George behind, it was time to continue with the nursery section: the hatchlings corral. These cute little babies were moving everywhere. They were spread out all over as moving little rocks with numbers on their backs. This was an amazing experience at the Charles Darwin Research Station. 

Our fantastic journey did not end there. It was time for another adventure on Santa Cruz Island. After a very comfortable and delicious lunch at Altair Restaurant in the highlands, we set off for another wonderful trip: to explore the giant Tortoise Reserve. We got our boots ready, and it was time to look for these amazing reptiles in the wild. As soon as we arrived, a really big giant tortoise was right there next to the parking area. Continuing a little farther, it was astonishing the way we got to see all these enormous reptiles moving here and there just to get food. They were very shy at first; but as we continued farther in, they ignored us and continued with their daily lives.

Once our visit was over, we had energy for a little more: a trip to the cloud forest in order to see the sink holes. These little grand canyons looked just spectacular in the middle of the largest Scalesia forest in Galápagos. It was amazing to see all the ferns, moss-covered trees, and several different finches flying all around us. Our new adventure in the Enchanted Islands could not have been better.

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