Galapagos Cruise Report: Santa Cruz Island

From the National Geographic Islander in Galápagos July 20, 2010

Today we visited a place many of us had looked forward to for quite some time. The Charles Darwin Research Station is the institution where the famous Galápagos giant tortoises live. Lonesome George, one of them, is probably the most famous tortoise inhabitant. He is, unfortunately, the very last tortoise from Pinta Island. We were lucky to have been able to see him. George was there in his corral as if he was waiting for the group to arrive so he could perform his slow-motion signs of activity. He opened his mouth right when we were looking at him and then, with a bit more of energy, he stood up and stretched his neck. At this time we were able to observe that the front of his shell has the perfect shape for allowing his neck to reach high.

The morning had more surprises. We walked the town of Puerto Ayora finding a row of T-shirt shops, art galleries, colorful cafés and Internet places. This is a side of Galápagos that few outsiders know about it. There are approximately twenty-thousand people that live on the islands and have found ways of earning a living in this UNESCO World Heritage Site called Galápagos.

The visit to the highlands of Santa Cruz was one my favorite parts of the day. A 40-minute bus ride to a private farm gave us the opportunity to see changes in the vegetation and observe the farming zone. We setup lunch when we arrived, and we were delighted to be in this island surrounded with wild tortoises and fresh air.

We can say that this was our tortoise day of the week!

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