Puerto Ayora is the largest town in the Galapagos and was the starting point of our adventure today. This morning, we visited the Charles Darwin Research Station and had the chance to see research in progress to save some of the critical endangered Galapagos tortoises. The famous, extinct “Lonesome George” tortoise was on display as a stark reminder of the impact that careless humans can have on the environment. However, the research station is conducting one of the most successful reintroduction programs in the world with great success. The afternoon was spent in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island with a visit to a sustainable coffee and sugar plantation. One of the highlights of the trip was the chance to see giant Galapagos tortoises in their natural environment. There were dozens of tortoises, ranging in all sizes, including some of the largest on the island, weighing in at over 400 pounds. It is humbling to see these magnificent creatures thriving in the wild and know that the residents are doing everything to protect these Enchanted Islands.
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.