Day 8 – After breakfast at the tortoise sanctuary on Santa Cruz, we drove to Manzanillo (which translates to “poison apple”) Ranch where we hiked around and found more giant land tortoises. We found several, who wallowed happily in the mud and John got a couple (more) great shots. We have been incredibly impressed with the beauty and diversity of the islands within the Galapagos, and we are constantly surprised at how easy it is to get close to the animals. One would have to try very hard to avoid taking amazing photographs. John, who is very talented, has gotten some real stunners!
We spent the afternoon at the Charles Darwin Research Station, where international scientists conduct research dedicated to conserving the unique habitats and species of the Galapagos. We saw baby tortoises (awwww!) and Diego, the most-prolific, known father of saddle-back tortoises of his sub-species (45 percent of the children produced have tested directly back to him). We also witnessed an event which EVERYONE in our tour agreed was the most memorable sight that we witnessed: two male tortoises “mating”. This is such a rare occurrence that even Veronica pulled out her phone and took a picture. After the visit to the Research Station we shopped and enjoyed sight-seeing in Puerto Ayora, the main town on Santa Cruz.