The wildlife is everywhere! After we reached shore, we traversed around lots of sea wolves and marine iguanas.
Matt and Diana arranged for a Santa Cruz land tour which is the quickest and easiest way to see the highlights. This adventure would bring us to the 2nd largest active crater in the world, Tortuga Bay, and a Tortoise sanctuary.
Matt and I were celebrating our 13 year anniversary, so did something we have never done before—we dressed alike. I had purchased a bikini from Pelagic (on sale) a few months ago and the day before we left, they put the men’s swim trunks on sale. Happy anniversary.
Sierra Negra Volcano:
Our first stop was the Sierra Negra volcano crater. This is the 2nd largest active crater in the world and had just erupted 4 months ago. When you step up to the ledge you cannot really tell if it is a crater or a giant sink hole, but either way it was impressive. We did not have this impressive view from the ledge, but it does provide a great overview.
Tortuga Bay is a national park located outside of Puerto Ayora. Since it is a National Park, they prohibit drinking of any kind. Of course, we did not know that as we loaded up the cooler with beer and rose. Lucky for us the park was only staffed with one ranger. We set up camp, grabbed a cold beverage and hit the water. When I say “hit the water” I mean up to our calves as it was COLD!
There is tons of wildlife in Tortuga Bay. Lots of marine iguanas, sally light foot crabs and birds. Alas, no tortugas.
EL CHATO RANCH
El Chato Ranch is an ecological, wildlife reserve where large tortoises roam freely in their natural habitat. This breed is called Galapagos Elephant Tortoises and they are the largest of the seven breeds that roam around the Galapagos islands. It was breathtaking to see these large creatures meandering across our path, eating, bathing, and hanging out. We kept our distance as they are very afraid of humans and retreat into their shells if you get too close.
Within the sanctuary, there are lava tunnels. These eerie formations offer a fascinating look into the volcanic belly of the island. The lava tubes were formed when surface lava cooled and solidified, while the underground hot lava continued to flow, eventually leaving an emptied cave
Yes, the plant in the center has egg shells on each stem – it is their version of an “egg plant.”
We took a few tourist shots near the Santa Cruz sign and giant iguana before heading back to the boat for some chill time.