Aaron Saunders, Live Voyage Reports
Today marks our last full day of cruising the Galapagos Islands aboard Silversea’s Silver Galapagos. However, just because it’s our last day doesn’t mean the talented Expedition Team has let up on the throttle; instead, today presented guests with a number of different options to enjoy their time in Puerto Ayora on Isla Santa Cruz.
This morning, everyone disembarked by zodiac raft once again to come ashore. There were initially some logistical challenges to overcome: a large triathlon had closed many of the streets. But, our mini-busses were located just a short stroll from the pier, and soon we were on our way to Los Gemelos.
Los Gemelos – or The Twins in English – are two massive craters that have gradually sunk into the earth. Total depth: 30 metres. They’re what you might expect of a meteor strike, with the caveat that they are covered wall-to-wall in lush, thick, jungle-like vegetation. The two craters are separated by the highway, which literally divides the two.
After that, we travelled to Rancho El Manzanillo, a giant tortoise reserve about 45 minutes’ drive from Puerto Ayora. Here, we once again were able to indulge our passions for photographing and viewing these massive creatures. Why did the tortoise cross the road? I have absolutely no idea – but it was “bad pun day” on our drive in and out of the reserve as our path was repeatedly blocked by the slow, lumbering creatures that tended to clamp down and go into Tortoise Witness Protection at the first hint of trouble – or approaching mini-bus. Many of these tortoises are well over a century old, and tend to be more frightened of humans than their younger counterparts. The rationale is simple: they can remember being hunted by humans.
After another fabulous lunch at The Grill on Deck 5 onboard the Silver Galapagos, we had three choices for our afternoon activities. We could visit the Charles Darwin Research Facility just outside of Puerto Ayora; we could opt to have free time shopping in Puerto Ayora (a substantially nicer city than yesterday), or we could visit El Trapiche – a local farm that grows its own coffee and distills its own spirits.
We’ve seen so many different types of wildlife here in the Galapagos. I’ve seen creatures I’ve never seen before in my life in the wild, freed from the cagey confines of some half-rate zoo. One thing I haven’t seen this trip, though, are the people who actually live here. So, along with about a dozen guests, I opted to hop back on a mini-bus for the 40-minute ride to El Trapiche.