Galápagos – Santa Cruz and Darwin

From the lushness of the Amazon we flew to Galápagos – now in the dry season. We visited 10 of the 19 islands, starting with Santa Cruz and the Charles Darwin Research Station.

amazonas-2-och-galapagos-1-446_copyI guess most people recognize this gentleman as a Giant Tortoise, but some maybe think of him as the Galápagos Tortoise or the Elephant Tortoise. Length 150 cm and weight up to 250kg, and they can get very old. Of originally 14 subspecies, 10 remains. This gentleman here, might have been alive when Darwin came to the islands 1835 – just reflect upon that…

Lonesome George was very well known over the world as the last existing of his kind. Despite many efforts to save his species – the scientists failed. He died alone in 2012.

amazonas-2-och-galapagos-1-476_copyIn the highland area of Santa Cruz, these giants walk and live. Not very well seen by the local farmers though, as they easily break any fence and eat 40 kg a day…

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…but on the other hand they spread the seeds again back onto earth again …

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These giants are not very fast…and we saw several of them along – or on – the road. There were even roadsigns to warn drivers about them.

Our guide, Juan, was a tough guy – almost military discipline – but that is needed to protect the islands and its very special wildlife. We were requested to stay in the group, only walk on the signposted paths and not move closer to the animals than 2 metres.

Most species are endemic, that is also why Darwin got easily observed material for his theories. In fact he did not visit the islands for more than 35 days – and from this came…The Origin of Species. Something that was to change the world for ever.

Charles Darwins resa med HMS Beagle 1831-36, Galápagosdelen

The research institute is very successful in breeding and releasing tortoises, iguanas and finches – among other endemic species. There was this great story of Diego, a tortoise of the hoodensis species, who 1905 was brought from Espagñola island to  San Diego Zoo. He never liked it there, but stayed until 1965, when he was brought back to Santa Cruz to save his species from extinction. And he did – almost he alone! Now there are about 2000 of his offspring ”running” around on the islands! He would not be photographed though…turning his back on us all…

Freedom!

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20 comments on “Galápagos – Santa Cruz and Darwin

    • I still find it hard to believe I really was there…I loved every millisecond of this Ecuador adventure – and how grateful I am💚

  1. Vilken underbar upplevelse, att få se dessa fantastiska varelser. Inte utan att man känner vördnad och respekt när man ser dessa majestätiska urtidsdjur. Det måste väl ändå ha varit något alldeles extra?

    • Det var det. Alldeles extra. Jag gillar ju dem väldigt mycket och har alltid gjort. Jag minns hur jag satt klistrad framför Richard Attenboroughs program som barn…Jag tycker leguanerna tar fram precis de känslor du beskriver!

      • Det finns ingen som Attenborough, hans naturskildringar är magiska oavsett djur. Så många gånger man suttit klistrad framför teven när han tagit med en ut på resor.

    • It was – and the whole trip was a success really. Everything working well and lovely people around! I hope you are posting the signpost as well?

  2. Ah… the memories of my years in Ecuador. Lived there for a while. Sadly, not for too long 😉 It truly is an amazing country. I hope I’ll be able to visit again someday. Or move back? Who knows… 🙂
    I’m so happy you are having a great time! Ecuador will stay in your heart, I’m sure.

    • Oh Sarah – you lived there! How wonderful! I could move there too. Wonderful people and incredible nature – just give me a job😉 Honestly, when was this? Am I envious…😂

  3. To think that the tortoise might be as old as -or even older than- Charles Darwin is totally incomprehensible. Such an ancient being, like a miracle. Which proves that we have to take it slowly if we want to grow old.
    Love your post and the photos, Ann-Christine.

  4. So informative, Leya. Up closecnad personal photographs too. Maybe Diego is shy and back in the day he had to pass through many people and obstacles 😂 Wow, eat 40kg a day…I’m guessing it is a few turtles and not just one 😂

Halva verket är läsarens - så, vad säger Du? As the second half is the reader's - I'd love to have Your line!

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