Galápagos

Santa Cruz Highlands

The Galápagos Islands


Santa Cruz is the island with the highest population, mostly living in the main town of the archipelago, Puerto Ayora.We made a morning trip to the Highlands of the island. Our first stop was at Los Gemelos (the twins), which are two pit craters just off the main road from Puerto Ayora to the airport at Baltra.

Los Gemelos are two pit craters: at one time there was a layer of lava at the surface, but volcanic action underneath it produced an underground 'bubble', then the surface collapsed into itself, creating several pit craters, of which Los Gemelos are the largest.

One of Los Gemelos

Giant Tortoise

However, our main time in the Santa Cruz highlands was spent at the Tortoise Reserve, where a number of the endemic Santa Cruz subspecies of Giant Tortoise, Geochelone elephantopus porteri, wander free.


Giant Tortoise tight portrait

Then we came upon a Giant Tortoise at the edge of a pool. This portrait really was full frame: I just lay down on the ground at right angles to the tortoise, who seemed unaffected by my presence.


The more twitcher-y people in our party then went off to find a Paint-billed Crake Neocrex erythrops, but I decided that a tortoise in the lens was worth a lot more than an elusive, skulking crake (I know, that finally does it for my field cred.)

The tortoise was obviously going to drink, and I was interested in seeing and photographing it drinking. To my surprise, it stretched its head right out and submerged its head and neck.
 


Compare:
Seychelles Giant Tortoise

Giant tortoise drinking

The Islands

Bartolomé

Española

Fernandina

Floreana

Genovesa

Isabela

San Cristóbal

Santa Cruz

 > The Highlands

Santa Fé

Santiago

Seymour Norte


Shipmates


The Wildlife


Diary 2004

Diary 2005

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Text and images © Liz Leyden, 2008
Email: liz [at] v-liz [dot] com
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