Santa Cruz Island, Day 8

Giant Tortoise, Santa Cruz Island, Galápagos Islands, EcuadorBack to Santa Cruz Island…

Apparently the captain has spoken with the owners and the boat will be fumigated while the passengers enjoy a free lunch at a waterfront restaurant in Puerto Ayora.  Cool.  As we walk around the Puerto Ayora harbor, we come across an open air fish-market where the main beneficiaries seem to be the wildlife, much to the frustration of the fishermen.

The Galapagos Islands are rightly famous for their giant tortoises, although spotting them in the wild is surprisingly difficult.  This is because the marked trails on each island typically stay along the coast, while the different tortoise species live inland and Galapagos rule number 1 is never leave the trail.  Santa Cruz Island does, however, offer two opportunities to see these iconic creatures. The first is at the Charles Darwin Research Center (CDRC) in Puerto Ayora, which is attempting to reverse the centuries old decline in the giant tortoise population.  The most famous resident at the CDRC is Lonesome George, a native of Pinta Island and the last of his species.  Despite quite intensive and invasive efforts, George has yet to mate successfully (Note since our visit, poor George has gone to tortoise heaven, where we can only hope he is no longer lonely).

Santa Cruz also offers a rare opportunity to see giant tortoises in the wild.  For this we take a bus to a private reserve in the cool, damp central highlands.  The great thing about tortoise spotting is that they are large, slow-moving critters so finding them – either munching grass in a meadow or taking a bath in a boggy hole – is pretty easy. We count 24 in 2 hours before repairing to the bar to be serenaded by our guide.  The Cuban folk song Guajira Guantanamera is a firm favorite.

Blog post by Roderick Phillips, author of Weary Heart – a gut-wrenching tale of love and test tubes

 

 

 

 

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