Oct 10, 2017 - National Geographic Endeavour II
Today the day we had been waiting for—our opportunity to see giant tortoises. Early morning, we admired the beauty of Academy Bay, where the main attraction is the gorgeous landscape and the variety of different boats and ships. We disembarked onto the town’s principal dock and took a short ride to Galapagos National Park Headquarters and Charles Darwin Research Station. During the ride across town, we could see how the regular activities of local people contrasted with the endemic nature of the islands.
As we followed La Ruta de la Tortuga (the Tortoise Path), there were useful, informative panels explaining various aspects and angles about the natural history and conservation in the islands. As we approached the Fausto Llerena Breeding Center, a small mockingbird came to us and captivated our attention, finishing our Galapagos Mockingbird checklist as the fourth species to be seen on this voyage. Towards the end of our morning visit, in the last pen of Española giant tortoises, Diego, the most representative tortoise of his species, was waiting for us with his elongated neck, giving us the impression he wanted to greet us.
A short visit to El Trapiche farm allowed our guests to taste some local products such as brown sugar, fresh cheese, dark chocolate and the specialty of the house: young rum/ sugar cane moonshine.
After lunch, we looked for tortoises in their natural environment and discovered their paths near the shallow ponds. It is the perfect season to see them in their natural habitat. At same time, it was an opportunity to see lava tubes, a resting place for barn owls, nocturnal predator of Santa Cruz Island.