Visiting Isla Santa Cruz in the Galápagos Archipelago

Inland Tour

I took this picture out the window while we were driving. Once we gained a little elevation the vegetation became lush due to the increased rainfall. This is not pristine vegetation, it has all been worked-over by farmers.   We stopped at Rancho Primicias to view tortoises in the "wild" (actually, a farm with some uncultivated land). From left to right, José Jimenez (our driver and guide), the two children (sister and brother) who led us to the tortoise pond, Marcie, and David.

This is what a Giant Tortoise looks like in the wild, just a big hump in a pond. The right-hand picture is a close-up.

We saw several tortoises in the high grasses.  

A closer view.  

Guess what this is? It's a pile of tortoise poop.  

Thursday, April 1, 2004 (April Fool's Day, Day 4 in the Galápagos Archipelago)

When we arrived at Isla Santa Cruz, we all agreed that we wanted to take a tour of the interior parts of the island. By asking around, Marcie found a local guide with a pick-up truck (camioneta) who agreed to drive us around the island and show us the sights. The man's name was José Jimenez, and when we met him, Marcie explained to him (in Spanish) that there was a noted American comedian with the same name. José spoke only Spanish so during the tour Marcie acted as translator.

On the day of the tour, we met José at the landing and headed off on the the road to Baltra which would take us into the highlands. As we left the seashore town and gained altitude, the climate lost its aridity and the vegetation became lush. There were many farms with fruit trees (grapefruit, orange, limes, banana, guava, papaya, etc.) and also small cattle ranches. Much of the vegetation had been introduced for agriculture, displacing native vegetation.

We stopped at a private farm that had an area of undeveloped land where wild tortoises roam. A couple of kids who lived on the farm led us along trails through the mixed forest and grassland. We came to a small pond that had a big domelike hump rising out of the water which was a Giant Tortoise. Leading us further, we came to an area of tall grasses where several tortoises rested. When we approached the wild tortoises they retracted their heads and hissed at us. We saw other interesting sights including several birds, curious plants and trees, and a few giant spiders hovering over the trail in their webs.

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