Day 6: Finally we see the giant tortoises, both in the wild and in pens

This past week I cruised the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador on the M/Y Eric, operated by Ecoventura. As I did not have access to internet, I am going to post my daily blogs this week.

Sept. 25: Santa Cruz Island

This was the day most of us had been waiting for. Today we got to see the most famous animals in the Galapagos island, the giant tortoises.

A Galapagos giant tortoise
A Galapagos giant tortoise

In the morning, we landed on a dock in the city of Puerto Agora on Santa Cruz and a bus drove us to a farm in the highlands of the island. On this farm, the giant tortoises live in the wild. Actually, they live most of the time in the higher areas but move down to lower levels to breed and lay their eggs. In this process, they move through several large farms…land that is subsidized by the government, to protect the breeding process.

We are pleasantly surprised to find many giant tortoises here today, at least 20 of them. We are able to get quite close and get some excellent pictures. These particular tortoises have domed shells.

Not the prettiest face
Not the prettiest face

This afternoon we visited the Darwin Center. The research center just outside of the town of Santa Cruz raises tortoises from eggs until they are five years old and then reintroduce them to the wild. This way they are increasing the number of giant tortoises, a breed once threatened with extinction. Here also we meet “Lonesome George,” a rather famous turtle who they are seeking an appropriate mate for…this is a worldwide search and thus far no female has been found that matches his DNA.

Me with a giant tortoise
Me with a giant tortoise

After our turtle activities, we head into the town of Santa Cruz for our first shopping of the trip. We are surprised to discovered a number of fine jewelry stores and art galleries…and plenty to T-shirt shops, too. Tonight we have been given the option of eating dinner in town so we eat at La Garrapata where we get good seafood at reasonable prices. Of course, we have a few cervezas, too!

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