Day 6: Santa Cruz Highlands

Areas of the Galapagos with a higher elevation are known as the Highlands. Due to the altitude, Santa Cruz Highlands provide a fresh respite from the sun, making this place the perfect habitat for the giant Galapagos tortoises, Galapagos finches and other land animals and plants. The Twin Craters or Gemelos are geologically speaking seen as sink holes and their formation is not directly due to volcanic action. They were created as a result of the collapse or sinking of surface materials into cracks or manholes. We visited lava tubes or tunnels, which are the result of the many eruptions that have occurred on the island since its formation. Island specific highlights include: Giant tortoises, tree & ground Darwin finches, vermillion flycatcher, cattle egrets. We had the privilege of meeting Lonesome George!

🙂 EVERYTHING! Huge tortoises. Lonesome George.

We had booked to dive at Gordon’s Rock but instead opted to go with the group to the Highlands which really was a good move and worthwhile as we saw the giant tortoises in their wild habitat. Amazing to see Lonesome George who originated from Pinta and who was estimated to be about 96 years old…he died on 24 June 2012 aged 102. In his last years he was known as the rarest creature in the world and was a symbol for conservation efforts in the Galapagos Islands. The demise of the Pinta giant tortoise was all down to the release of 3 goats by fisherman to provide fresh meat in 1959 on this pristine island. By 1970 there were 40,000 goats who had decimated the vegetation on which the tortoises relied for survival. In 1972 the single remaining tortoise was transferred by National Park Rangers to the Tortoise Centre on Santa Cruz for its protection. It was hoped that a female would eventually be found, however despite extensive searches and genetic analysis no other Pinta tortoises were found. These words were inscribed on the information panel outside his enclosure ‘Whatever happens to this single animal, let him always remind us that the fate all living things on Earth is in human hands’.

We also navigated our way through massive lava tunnels (10m wide!).

The sunken craters are 100m-200m across!

Great photos of short eared owl right next to the road.

Spotted the red flycatcher.

Bought some gifts for the children to take home and a tortoise for us – $88!!

Back to boat for a nap before our dive – that was short lived as the dive crew arrived early!

The first dive was dull and cold! The second dive was fantastic. Ten sea lions joined us and played with us for 20mins. It was cold at 15C.

The seals herded the massive shoals of fish into bait balls and dived bombed the ball to to take their fill. A blue footed booby joined in the fun – amazing!

After our dives we bumped into a couple from the other boat who asked us to join them and their boat for drinks. We had a mojito with them – a pity that we had not been with them as much more fun than our lot! Charlotte used her $10 pocket money to buy Trent a t-shirt. Caitlyn wanted to buy a t-shirt that said ‘I love boobies’! LOL>

Go Back to: Galapagos

Go Back To: Santiago Island

Go to: Espanola Island

Leave a Reply

Continue Exploring