Giant Tortoise breeding centre, Galapagos islands

Trip Start Apr 06, 2008
Trip End Feb 02, 2009

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Hostal Ingrit Macarena

Flag of Ecuador  , Galapagos Islands,
Sunday, January 25, 2009

I left Quito on the 6th January and flew to the island of Santa Cruz in the Galapagos. I spent one night there then got a boat to the island of Isabela, where I am staying for the rest of the month. 

Whilst on Santa Cruz we went to visit the Charles Darwin research station, where the famous tortoise "Lonesome George" lives. For anyone who hasnīt seen the documentaries about him, he is the only surviving tortoise of his species. They have searched in vain for a mate for him. Now they are hoping he will mate with a female from a species which is quite close to him genetically so they can get as close as possible to preserving the species. When we went he was certainly doing his best, chasing the females round the enclosure. Not bad for his age (approx 90?) Unfortunately he couldnīt catch up with the 130 year old female!

I am working Monday to Friday mornings at the Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre. Work involves cleaning the enclosures and feeding. Tortoises get surprisingly lively when the food comes round! We have also been to collect the food once (we went by truck up into the hills, stopped by the side of the road, the staff cut the vegetation with machetes and we loaded it onto the truck). Another day we painted identification numbers on some tortoises. There are a number of tortoises kept here for breeding, the rest are released into the wild when they are about 5 years old. So there are tortoises here ranging from newly hatched (about 3 inches long) to about a hundred years old (males weigh about 200kg). There is one tortoise who likes human contact. She was one of the original tortoises when the centre opened in 1993 so she has become very tame. Her name is Ingrid (number 14) and she hangs around near the gate of her enclosure. You knock on her shell and she then sticks her head out to be stroked!

Working hours are 8 - 11:30 am. The afternoon is free to have a siesta, swim, snorkel, etc!

The Galapagos are famous for their wildlife. Because they donīt have any natural predators the animals tend to be very tame. There are lots of sea lions (Lonely Planet describes them as "the golden retrievers of the Galapagos"). Also marine iguanas, pelicans, a few penguins and, my favourite - the blue footed booby

I am staying in the town of Puerto Villamil - the only town on the island. I say "town" - itīs only a few streets, population (of the entire island) about 2200. It is a very laid back place. The streets are full of white sand from the beach. At night, in the street lights, it looks like snow. Very odd!

It is currently the start of the hot, wet season, and it seems to be getting hotter every week. So far it has only rained a couple of times and, as yet, the mosquitoes havenīt arrived :-)

I have uploaded a few photos but it is painfully slow here and I have given up for now!

Slideshow Report as Spam


kathym on

lucky you

Really enjoying reading all your news - it's making me think about doing this next year. Keep safe nad continue to have fun for the remainder of your trip.
Don't let those mosies get too close.

chrisfrombarnet on

wow, a booby!
I didn't know boobies could have blue feet?
Weather a bit blue here too, underwater cycling today in Oakhill Park, Pymmes Brook flooded pathway and football pitches.
See you again soon in Barnet :-)
Chris K.

wellhellocasey on

Beats working!!
Hi Janet

Sounds & looks amazing - not quite sure how you are going to cap this when you return. What is the next leg?


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