We are having a great time exploring the Galapagos Islands aboard National Geographic Endeavour II. Our destination for today is Santa Cruz Island. It is the second largest island in this archipelago, it has the largest human settlement, and it is home for more than 10,000 giant tortoises!
This morning we visited the Galapagos National Park facilities for tortoise breeding. Here we learned about the conservation efforts that the national park carries out in order to restore endangered populations of animals and plants. It is rewarding to hear how successful they have been throughout the years, to the point that some tortoise and land iguana populations have been restored.
On Santa Cruz, we also had the opportunity to visit a small school that is sponsored by Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic as part of their programs with the local communities. We also had the opportunity to explore the giant tortoises reserve, walking close to and photographing these magnificent reptiles. It is difficult to believe that a few decades ago they were seriously threatened by introduced mammals such as feral pigs, goats and rats. However, today, they are back and claiming their territories. It was like a dream to see them slowly moving across the forest grazing and wallowing in the mud pools.