Today is giant tortoise day! We anchor in the northern part of Santa Cruz and start our day with a short Zodiac drive to the turquoise waters of Itabaca Channel. We drive up to the highlands of Santa Cruz Island, leaving behind the coastal zone vegetation and passing through dry forest before immersing ourselves in the humid zone, where everything is green. We stop at Los Gemelos, two volcanic craters surrounded by a scalesia forest. In this magical area we spot a variety of endemic birds and plants while learning about the geology of the island. Finally, we arrive in the luxuriant green highlands of Santa Cruz where we spot countless Galapagos tortoises. We spend all morning walking around these giants while we learn about their history, biology, and behavior as they roam peacefully in their natural habitat. These enormous creatures are truly fascinating to observe, which some of us did while sitting under a tree, painting, taking pictures, or chilling in a hammock. The giant tortoises are everywhere, and we spot dozens of them from the restaurant where we have lunch. On our way back, a flock of blue-footed boobies flies overhead, making us feel we are inside a nature documentary! We cap off this amazing day with a sunset walk on the beach before returning to the National Geographic Endeavour II.
National Geographic Endeavour II
Today was the second full day of our expedition, and we started activities very early to make the most of it. Right after sunrise, we boarded Zodiacs to explore a very interesting visitor site on Floreana Island. Here, a green sand beach was waiting for us. We learned about different types of sand and why the green color of this beach is so special. As we walked a little farther, we arrived at a brackish water lagoon. Flamingos are often observed here, but today was really special. We found nearly 80 flamingos feeding at the lagoon. This sighting was not only rare but also very exciting! We kept walking and arrived at a beach known as “the flour beach.” The beach has a particular type of sand that is not only white but very fine, like flour. Walking there was a pleasure. We encountered a sea turtle laying her eggs and covering them with sand. We observed diamond stingrays along the shoreline as we walked along the beach. Our next activity was an amazing deep-water snorkel. We observed many species of colorful fish along with one of the largest colonies of sea lions in the Galapagos. The afternoon was equally interesting, maybe even better! We had the opportunity to visit Post Office Bay, the location of the first mailing system on the islands. Long ago, sailors deposited their mail here, and it was collected by other ships passing through on their way back home. Nowadays, the mail system still works the same way. Postcards are dropped off and then picked up by future visitors, who follow the tradition by hand-delivering the mail once they make it home. After this exciting adventure, we enjoyed the clear and warm waters at the beach. Today was another great day in this little piece of heaven on earth.