We took a zodiac into a town on San Cristobal Island where we were bused to Galapaguera de Cerro Colorado, a breeding center for the Galapagos Giant Tortoise. This center was one of the first priorities of the Charles Darwin Foundation when it was established in 1959. Back in the 1600s it is believed there were over 200,000 tortoises living in the Galapagos. As pirates and privateers began visiting the islands they would take these tortoises as a food and water supply. They killed around 200,000 tortoises in a 300 year period leaving only around 3,000 tortoises still alive in 1960 when the foundation decided to create several breeding centers. The breeding centers have been successfully allowing the tortoises to lay their eggs and hatch after which they provide a protected environment for the young tortoises to grow for 3 to 5 years prior to placing them back into the wild. The population has now grown to 30,000 tortoises with the success of these centers and other measures that the foundation has taken. You can now readily go to these breeding centers and the many reserves they have set up to see these spectacular animals. A full-grown tortoise can have a shell up to 5 feet long and weigh up to 600 pounds. They live to 150 years old. It is amazing to watch one of these large animals raise their substantial weight up on their legs and slowing walk around. We had some great opportunities to take some wonderful pictures of these animals at the center.
When we left the center, we came back to the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno to do a little shopping. We didn’t find too much although Sharon managed to find a nice long sleeve dry fit shirt with a Blue Footed Booby on it. She was the envy of the ship when she wore it around with everyone wanting to know where she got it. We always find it amazing that none of the gift stores in these touristy cities ever sell dry fit shirts. These are much more popular now for many people and certainly would sell much better than the cheap cotton shirts that are sold.
As we ate lunch the ship re-positioned to a different portion of the island called Punta Pitt. We took a nice long hike on the island which involved some climbing through some narrow rock crevices. We saw quite a few red and blue footed boobies along the way, but the main purpose of the hike was to appreciate the landscape of the island and get some great views from up on top of the higher points on the island. We hiked to the most eastern point in the Galapagos Islands Archipelago. It was another great hike on a beautiful day in the Galapagos Islands.
Greg and Sharon