Unique Encounters with Nature on a Galapagos Expedition

Santa Cruz II Galapagos Expedition

When visitors step onto Genovesa Island for the first time, one can’t help but notice how unique these islands are.  Few places in the world carry such distinct wildlife, but the most special thing about the islands is having the opportunity to experience it all up close – something that can only be done on a Galapagos cruise!

Upon arrival, we head straight up to Darwin Bay, home to hundreds of red-footed boobies that inhabit the red mangroves of the island. It seems like every branch is occupied by a nesting couple, and the noise the birds make can sometimes feel overwhelming. That’s how alive these islands are!

Red Footed Booby In The Galapagos

All of a sudden, we look at the sky and see two birds approaching. You only have to catch a glimpse of boobies and frigates flying in the sky to understand how the two species get along. Even though the two birds coexist, the pirate-like behavior of the frigates sometimes intimidates the boobies. These sort of unique and marvelous interactions can only be seen in the Galapagos.

As we started a new year, we made a special visit to the diverse island of Santa Cruz. Here, during our Galapagos expedition to the highlands, we were welcomed by the first rain of 2017. During the hot season, rainfall is very common and they nourish the earth which later feeds some important land animals like the Galapagos giant tortoises. Vegetation flourishes during this time as well, providing ample food for land reptiles and birds, all of which depend on the new growth of vegetation that is triggered by the equatorial rains.

During our visit to Santa Cruz’s misty highlands we found an incredible number of tortoises: They had come out to soak under the first drops of rain. There were Galapagos Giant tortoises everywhere, drinking from puddles, lounging in the wet grass, and bathing in the muddy pools that tend to form throughout their habitat during this period. It was great to see these colossal reptiles enjoying themselves!

Giant Tortoise Reserve Galapagos

Some Facts about the Galapagos Giant Tortoises

Did you know that the Galapagos giant tortoise is the largest living tortoise species? They are the islands’ biggest herbivore and their role as top grazer is vital to their habitat. Their shells, even though they may look very similar form the outside, vary from island to island. Due to their really slow growth, they can live well beyond 100 years. Sadly, when the first explorers of the islands discovered the archipelago, their number was greatly reduced because of overhunting. Nowadays, efforts are being made by the Charles Darwin Research station and other public and private organizations to help the species recover. The two biggest breeding centers are located in Puerto Ayora and Cerro Colorado, in San Cristobal, where visitors are welcome all year long.

Updated:May 24, 2023

Published:January 6, 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.

Terms and Conditions

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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