The chances are if you know about one animal in the Galapagos, it will be the famous tortoises. The Galapagos tortoise is an incredible animal, with one of the longest life spans of any animal on the planet. It is even still remotely possible that one of the giant tortoises that roams the islands was actually born prior to Charles Darwin’s visit in 1835 (although this is unlikely and even harder to prove). However, the oldest ever recorded reached the incredibly grand old age of 152.
Perhaps it is the obsession with our own mortality that makes us so intrigued by these animals, or perhaps it is simply because they possess charm and charisma by the bucket load. The Galapagos tortoise is the world’s largest, often growing to over five feet in length (1.5 metres), which is another reason why they might fascinate us so much. And they weigh in at a colossal 550 pounds (250 kilograms).
These days there are only eleven species of Galapagos tortoise left, which is down from fifteen when Darwin first visited. In the 17th, 18th and even 19th centuries they were often hunted by sailors as a valuable source of food and for their exotic shells.
Thankfully, these days they are listed as an endangered species and protected by the Ecuadorian government and Galapagos national park. Interestingly, the name of the islands actually comes from the Spanish word for saddle: galapago.
As well as the Galapagos tortoise, Galapagos Legend Cruise is a great option to experience this wildlife contact. You can also see Galapagos green turtle, which are found in the waters around the islands. Found only in these tropical waters, the Galapagos turtles are smaller than some of their Pacific Ocean counterparts but no less beautiful. They are often called the black turtle because their pigmentation is so dark.
Go on a Galapagos islands cruise on board one of the many boats, such as the Galapagos Legend lucky enough to see them laying their eggs on the beaches around the islands. It’s even possible to get in the shallow water yourself and snorkel with some of these wonderful specimens.
These are the kinds of experiences that you can only really get in the stunning natural environment that is the Galapagos Islands.