The sun rose as the ship was anchored off the coast of Santa Cruz Island. We were ready to start a new and exciting day of exploration in this amazing archipelago. After a delicious breakfast, we prepared to start our adventure. Exploring the highlands of Santa Cruz to find the enigmatic Galapagos giant tortoises was first on our list.
We started our journey by disembarking on the north side of the island. A bus was waiting to take us to the much anticipated home of the giants. We rode through different vegetation zones, noticing how the scenery changed from blooming vegetation in the arid zone to evergreen plants in the humid zone.
As we got closer to El Manzanillo Ranch, we saw tortoises on the side of the road. At some point, they were in the middle of it. Thankfully, they were not blocking the way, so no Galapagos traffic jam this time. We finally arrived; it was a nice and overcast day. We got off the bus to start our walk to look for the giant tortoises.
Just a few feet from where we started, we found a female tortoise feeding on the vegetation of the area. We kept walking to a pond where tortoises gather to cool off in the water; they use the mud to protect their skin. We stopped for a few minutes to appreciate the beauty and magnificence of these giant reptiles enjoying the water.
We saw more than twenty tortoises as we walked. We also got the chance to enjoy the presence of birds. White-cheeked pintail ducks swam around the tortoises. Woodpecker finches sang beautifully, and the common gallinules running among the grass made our walk even better.
We had dinner with a lovely view of the ranch before we had to go back to the ship. After our amazing experience with the Galapagos giant tortoises, our next stop was Bachas Beach. We disembarked on one of the most beautiful white sandy beaches of the Galapagos, Bachas Beach, to walk to a small brackish lagoon behind the sand dunes.
Dozens of tortoise nests were part of the landscape as we walked along the beach. We observed resting marine iguanas and bright and colorful Sally Lightfoot crabs. As we walked, pelicans, boobies, and frigates put on a show as they soared above us. At the lagoon, a pair of greater flamingos greeted us as they foraged in the muddy bottoms. They stood with their pink feathers under the soft light of the sunset; it was an outstanding moment for us to contemplate nature. We enjoyed the beach until sunset, which marked the ending of another wonderful day. We look forward to more astonishing experiences to come in this paradise.