Santa Cruz

Dec 04, 2018 - National Geographic Endeavour II

It was another wonderful day here on our Galapagos expedition! Following breakfast, we took our Zodiacs to the town of Puerto Ayora and headed to the Charles Darwin Research Station. For decades, the research station has been doing incredible conservation work encompassing both the marine and terrestrial environments of the Galapagos. We spent most of our time visiting the tortoises, which are being bred to increase the wild population. Eggs are incubated at specific temperatures (temperatures dictate whether the baby tortoises are male or female) and the young tortoises spend several years in captivity before being released to their native islands. We paid homage to "Lonesome George," a deceased tortoise of international recognition who has been placed on display as the last of his species.

We strolled the streets of Santa Cruz, photographed the local fish market (complete with sea lions, pelicans, and frigate birds in attendance), and visited the local shops. After a refreshing beverage in a café, we split into two groups. One dropped in on the local school while the other headed to a farm in the highlands. Here we saw the process of sugar cane being turned into molasses, brown sugar, and moonshine. Tasting was very popular. We also watched coffee beans being roasted and sampled a few beans with local chocolate. Then we went out to lunch at a restaurant in the hills, surrounded by lush greenery and tropical flowers.

The afternoon was devoted to wild tortoise adoration. After plunging into the depths of a lava tube, we surfaced on the other end to spend a few hours wandering a network of trails. Many tortoises dotted the landscape – too many to count – and there were ample opportunities for photographers. iPhone users enjoyed shooting time-lapses, making the tortoises appear to race around at high velocity. A handful of Galapagos flycatchers entertained photographers by landing on their lenses and flying between cameras.

For the evening, we were visited by local artisans, musicians, and dancers. Another great day!

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About the Author

Emily Mount

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Emily grew up in Boulder, Colorado and Pullman, Washington. Her love of nature began as a child during family vacations spent hiking, camping and exploring the mountains and deserts of the west. In contrast to her outdoors interests, Emily pursued an intensive young career as a classical violinist, culminating in degrees in history and music performance at the University of Washington.

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