Touring the Island of Santa Cruz in the Galapagos

We meet one of the islands top guides

Juan Carlos Sosa, or JC as he prefers to be known, is one of those wonderful characters it is a delight to meet and converse with. Witty, charismatic and hugely knowledgeable about a wide variety of subjects. He is an award-winning guide with the Galapagos National Park authorities here in the Galapagos and will accompany us as we embark upon a charter aboard the 29 metre yacht Queen of the Galapagos.

First however he leads us for an afternoon tour of Santa Cruz. We set off to the Highlands to visit Los Gemelos (the Twins) a pair of almost matching pit craters sitting side by side. These volcanic craters were originally created just 1.5 million years or so ago when lava bubbled up from the earth. When that bubble burst the crust subsided back into the space left leaving the crater open to the atmosphere.

Here we met our first endemic bird, unique to these islands, the Galapagos Dove. Somewhat reluctant to fly, it prefers instead to stalk about using its distinctively red legs. Sounding the craters are fine examples of the towering Giant Daisy, whose tree like trunk supports a flower bush at the top, which plays host to many varieties of lichen and moss.

A short bus ride down a dirt track brings us to Rancho Primica. Amidst the wetlands, a wild colony of Giant Tortoise lives in their natural habitat. They love to wallow in the abundant muddy water hoping to rid themselves of troublesome parasites. These particular Tortoises are unique to Santa Cruz and they grow to a large size on the island because they have no predators.

Moving on we explore inside a lava tube. This subterranean tunnel was left behind when molten lava flowed from a crater but did so underground. They can run underground for many kilometres and over the years many have caved in leaving large ruts in the earths surface. This particular tube runs for about 250 metres, 25 metres underground.

Back in our bus we headed towards the Charles Darwin Research Station and the headquarters of the National Parks Service, the controlling body governing the activities inside the National Park.

Queen of Galapagos is available for charter through Robert Shepherd at Edmiston