The Galapagos Islands are known around the world for the famous, endemic wildlife found there. An amazing eighty-percent of all land-based animals on the archipelago are only found there, thanks to its isolation from the rest of the world. Of all of these none are perhaps more famous than the giant tortoises.
Weighing almost 1,000 pounds, the Galapagos tortoises are the largest in the world and can live well beyond 100 years. In fact some of the reptilian inhabitants may have been there when Darwin first encountered the island chain in 1835. While there is an excellent conservation facility guests can visit, for the ultimate experience there’s nothing like walking with them in the wild.
The tortoises spend much of the year migrating from the highlands of Santa Cruz Island down to the shore in order to lay eggs. It is during this time when trained guides can help you find them as they find their way down well-defined tortoise highways. When I visited the beautiful giants were in a large field slowly meandering, stopping to rest or for a drink at a nearby pond. I was careful not to get too close, not out of concern for my safety but so I wouldn’t bother them. To stand there in a primordial forest amongst dozens of walking boulders was a humbling moment I will always remember.