Love Erupts Between Galapagos Tortoises in the Wild!

Visits to Santa Cruz tend to be special ones. Sure, there’s always the greater presence of civilization, the dynamic Galapagos flora, scenery and changing weather patterns… but every now and then you get to see something rather special when it comes to the wildlife — specifically with Galapagos tortoises in the wild.

A Calm Before the Fireworks

Our day began in Santa Cruz as we disembarked at the docks in the early morning and made our way to the Charles Darwin Research Station. Shortly after strolling in and around the station, we circled back to Puerto Ayora where we got to explore the city for a bit while stopping every now and then to grab a cold beverage, a coffee or an ice cream to fuel up for the journey ahead.

Noon marked our departure towards highlands, with a short bus ride taking us up into the more elevated part of the island; at which point guests have the opportunity to grab a mountain bike and ride to the next stop if they’re feeling adventurous. Bus or bike, we all made it to “El Trapiche” which is a coffee plantation that offers all its visitors a number of little surprises and treats.

Walking Amongst Galapagos Tortoises in the Wild: The Sparks Fly

Galapagos Islands Giant Tortoises
Galapagos Islands Giant Tortoises Mate At Any Time During The Year.

After having lunch at a local restaurant named Fortiz, we headed over to our biggest stop of the day known as “Primicias” — a privately-owned farm that has some huge lava tunnels on-site as well as these wide-open fields where Galapagos tortoises roam freely in the open. When we got there this time there were numerous tortoises around, and it was quite easy to get up close to them. I always find it so nice to see these amazing animals moving around so slowly, acting like lawnmowers in slow-motion as they tend to eat pretty much everything in their path.

We managed to take pictures of this iconic member of the Galapagos Big15 right as a much smaller female specimen came out from under the shade of a tree. At this point, the male, having noticed the presence of the female, stopped eating and turned its attention to the female: jolting up suddenly and “running” (at tortoise speed, of course) towards the female.

Amazingly, given the spontaneity of it all, he managed to subdue the female and copulate with her right in front of us. It was a perfect candid moment that we were all lucky enough to get to see happen from one second to the next. It was also rather amusing for us to watch as the male awkwardly tried to mount the female and proceeded to vocalize the effort he was putting into the whole situation with occasional grunts. It’s interesting to note that mating is one of the very few instances where Galapagos tortoises vocalize themselves (apart from certain aggressive encounters).

In the end, we all walked away from the special event pleasantly surprised. It is uncommon to see Galapagos tortoises mating, but when it happens and their population grows, it always gives a sense of hope that the species won’t be at risk anymore, unlike Lonesome George, who could never reproduce and leave an heir that would continue his subspecies. So, it’s not always the case that many people can say that they got to witness such a spectacle with Galapagos tortoises in the wild!

Updated:May 8, 2023

Published:February 24, 2017


Machu Picchu & Galapagos Islands Tour 2024 Package: 12 days / Quito, Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu / From USD 9,598 per person



Condé Nast Traveler ONLINE

This small, secret rooftop of the restored Casa Gangotena mansion peers over Plaza San Francisco in the center of Quito’s colonial Old Town, the world’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Order a Cedrón Spritz, a refreshing mix of rum, lemon, sparkling wine, and fresh lemon verbena (cedrón) syrup and leaf, then revel in the mesmerizing, real-time montage of daily life in Ecuador’s capital as it parades past.

National Geographic Traveller

A Font of information, Klaus has spent decades in the field, leading tours in the Amazon, Andes and Galapagos Islands. He hung up his guiding boots a few years back and now creates itineraries for the tour operator, Metropolitan Touring. Adrift in the Pacific Ocean, hundreds of miles from mainland South America, Galapagos is one of the most biodiverse locales on Earth.

Cruise Critic

Santa Cruz II is a replacement for the much-loved Santa Cruz, which plied the waters of the Galapagos for 36 years. It is not a new ship; it was built in 2002 and sailed as Mare Australis under the Australis cruise brand, operating expedition cruises around Cape Horn and to Antarctica. Metropolitan Touring bought the ship in 2015 and completely refurbished it, launching it as Santa Cruz II in October 2015.

Telegraph Ultra Travel: 50 Greatest Hotels in the World

When this modern, minimalist, glass-walled jungle lodge opened in 2012, it changed the accommodation game in South America. Arquitect Alfredo Ribadeneira’s “protective cocoon” would impress in a modern city; in the depths of an Andean cloudforest, it is wild, audacious and beautiful. Though only 70 miles from Quito, Maspi Lodge sits in splendid isolation, perched on a cliff at the end of an unsealed road.

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Itinerario de 5 días / 4 noches: Basado en la tarifa regular (4214 USD + impuestos por persona)
Itinerario de 7 días / 6 noches: Basado en la tarifa regular (5672 USD + impuestos por persona)
No reembolsable. Aplica únicamente para residentes ecuatorianos en nuevas reservas directas realizadas, hasta el 30 de junio del 2022, con un ejecutivo de ventas del hotel. Válido para estadías hasta el 31 de agosto de 2022. No puede ser combinada con otros descuentos, promociones u ofertas. El descuento no aplica para otros servicios. El precio no incluye recargo de combustible de $20 por noche de crucero.

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