The Galapagos Islands: Do it (Part 2)

Day 2 in the Galapagos was a big one—and starred one of the main attractions: Giant Tortoises! They are really emblematic of the islands and I was really excited to have a chance to see them.

 

Our plan for the day was a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station, and then a drive up to the highlands to a “tortoise ranch”. The first stop just happened to be walking distance from the Adventura Lodge! I literally had no idea we were so close to the tortoises!

 

The same guide we had yesterday picked us up after breakfast (the only Adventura Lodge meal that was just “meh”) and we walked the short distance over to the research center. One note, on a sunny day, the Galapagos Islands are hot and humid. All the standard prep like sunscreen and covering up certainly helps.

The Research Station holds a museum, excellent exhibits on marine iguanas and the Darwin Finch and its preservation, but the big stars of the show are the Giant Tortoises, which are housed in large outdoor pens. The main attraction is Diego, one of the most prolific breeder tortoises (800 kids and counting).

Charles Darwin Research Center

After a tour of the Research Station, we made our way out of the crowds (many boat tours pull up to the center during the morning) and headed upland to the tortoise ranch. We stopped to visit some sinkholes which were interesting—the geology of the islands is so varied. And then, paydirt. So. Many. Tortoises.

 

We learned about tortoise habits, mating (got a first hand view!), lifespan (most live about 100-150 years), and just had a great time walking around the grounds and checking out these amazing creatures.

Welcome!

 

Turtle Party!

I definitely got my fill of tortoises.

Truck-sized tortoise

We returned to the Lodge for a quick lunch and packing—we were heading to an overnight on another island, Isabella, in the afternoon. I guess we weren’t really clear on this at the beginning—that we’d be checking out and taking a 2 hour boat ride to Isla Isabella. Maybe we should have asked more questions? Regardless, we packed up and went into town to catch “the ferry.” I put that in quotes because essentially people are packed 25 tight on small, closed in speed boats for the 2+ hour journey. We weren’t so lucky on our trip over—the boat we were on barely had windows, it was a choppy sea, and we were seated in a cabin with 6 very large singing Croatian guys who nearly made us deaf with their very loud concert the entire journey!

Isla Isabella

Isabella is much quieter than Santa Cruz. We disembarked to a sleepy town and made our way to our hotel, Isabella Lodge. It was basic, but right on the water and walking distance to restaurants and bars as well as the Flamingo Sanctuary and great snorkeling. We had the afternoon to relax, but after the jarring boat ride, we decided to take a quiet walk on the beach and head over to the Flamingo Sanctuary.

Flamingo Sanctuary

The Isabella Lodge is basic, the food choices somewhat limited, but the beach in front of the hotel is lovely. If I were to do it again, I might recommend the Iguana Crossing hotel, a modern beach hotel on the other side of town.

 

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