Lindblad Expeditions - From the National Geographic Islander in Galapagos - Enrique Silva, naturalist; Photos: David Pickar, v

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From the National Geographic Islander in Galapagos

Feb 6, 2013 - National Geographic Islander

Giant tortoises mating
Zigzag spider

Santa Cruz Island

Today we visited the island of Santa Cruz, or Indefatigable Island, which is the second largest island in the Galapagos. It has more than the 50% of the islands’ population. This day was remarkably hot and humid, and that is thanks to the rainy season. During this time of the year the trees start to bloom, creating nesting material for many birds. Many insects also appear, like zigzag spiders that draw great X’s on their webs.

Our first excursion of the day was to the well known and important Charles Darwin Research Station. There, we were able to find several species of giant tortoises, which are helping us with the breeding programs in order to repopulate the islands after their ancestors were wiped-out by pirates and other visitors back in the 17th and 18th centuries.

After a short time in town the buses took us to a place called El Trapiche, where we had a demonstration of products prepared by techniques that need no electricity. For example, sugar cane was transformed into molasses and panela replaced the need of sugar in the islands back when one cargo boat used to come every six months (now four come within a month). After a meticulous process, it also becomes a very strong alcoholic drink.

During the afternoon, a beautiful view of the islands and a lovely lunch were awaiting us in the highlands. For the last excursion on Santa Cruz we enjoyed a walk through one of the very few two-floor lava tunnels in the Galapagos and also around the tortoises’ natural reserve. They surprised us, teaching how they produce the future generation of their species.