This morning we awoke already anchored in Itabaca Channel by Santa Cruz Island. After a delicious breakfast we headed to the highlands in search of the iconic Galapagos giant tortoise found on the western side of this island.
In comfortable buses, we drove through different vegetation zones. The landscape changed from coastal vegetation to plants of the arid zone before we finally arrived at a lush forest in the humid zone. This route is one of the best ways to observe endemic or local plants.
At the Manzanillo Ranch we had the chance to get very close to the giant tortoises. Most were foraging and very active, while others rested in ponds. We even saw a couple of them mating right next to the bus parking lot.
Although we are at the peak of the hot season, a cloudy morning made for pleasant conditions for exploring. We had plenty of time to take many pictures of these amazing animals, followed by a delicious lunch at the Manzanillo Ranch restaurant.
Back on the ship, after a well-deserved rest, we enjoyed informative presentations on oceanography and another one about marine invasive species by Inti Keith from the Charles Darwin Research Station. Then we took a fun group photo on the sky deck with the crew, guests, and the “Good Morning America” team.
Meanwhile, National Geographic Endeavour II was heading toward another astonishing sight—the ongoing eruption of Wolf Volcano. What a wonderful image to end an amazing day. Isabela Island appeared to be on fire, competing with the starry skies above.