The last two days were rather "slow" days – almost a bit too quiet for my liking. Nevertheless, we had some interesting activities.
The first one took us to the mangrove forests of Caleta Tortuga Negra. These should be teeming with sea turtles, but unfortunately, they hid pretty well. So, we could see only a group of golden rays gliding majestically through the water at first. On the way back, we finally came across three turtles – one must not forget that this is not a zoo, but wild nature (which is easy to forget due to the abundant wildlife elsewhere).
Yesterday afternoon, we did a short hike at Cerro Negro which I really enjoyed. This is a protected area for land iguanas – and they are (in contrast to their marine relatives) very colorful (and bigger as well). Moreover, it was impressive to see how fast the vegetation can change from bare black lava rock to dense vegetation with Palo Santo trees (which still bear leaves here) and Opuntia cacti.
In addition, we were also able to observe some animals during our free time: On the way to Santa Cruz the day before, we were already accompanied by a large group of dolphins for some time. Frigatebirds also flew with us – or even hitched a ride. In the morning, while we were anchored off the coast of Santa Cruz, some sharks circled the boat – they have learned that tourists sometimes (illegally) throw something edible overboard.
Today was finally dedicated to the Galápagos tortoises: first in captivity at the Charles Darwin Research Station (including the embalmed Lonesome George), then in the wild in the highlands of Santa Cruz. In the highlands we also explored a lava tube, and "tried on" a tortoise shell.
Despite this tortoise shell fashion show, however, one of the most amusing things these days were the reactions of the newly arrived passengers in the first few hours:
Oh, a pelican! Click, click, click! –
Oh, a sea lion! Click, click, click, click!