This morning was going to be our half-day land excursion. Pikaia Lodge has various packages that include different activities throughout your stay. We chose a six night package which included three full day yacht excursions, one half day boat excursion, one half day land excursion, and finally some leisure time around the property to explore on your own schedule.

Today’s half day land excursion would take us to see the Giant Tortoises, Lava Tubes, and Sink Holes around the island of Santa Cruz. We started our day with breakfast at the Lodge before making our way into the highlands. We departed for the Tortoise reserve at 9am and arrived not even 30 minutes later. Since there is only one main road connecting each end of the island, we had a good guess of the direction we were headed. We took a left on a side road and entered the town of Santa Rosa.

Santa Rosa Sign

We pulled into El Chato Ranch, a tortoise reserve, and made our way to the boot shack. Rubber boots were provided to all guests, which was a necessity due to the wet muddy terrain.

El Chato Ranch
El Chato Ranch

We walked the short distance to the start of the path and encountered our first Giant Tortoise within the first 100 feet. As we walked the property, we noticed them everywhere. Some were in water holes, some were eating the grass, we even saw two mating.

The Lava tubes are actually located on the same property as the Tortoises. Our guide led us down the steep incline to some stairs and entered the cavern. These lava tubes were formed by lava flows many years ago. We thought it was pretty interesting that the only growth in the caves were some small green plants under each of the pathway lights.

After we exited the lava tubes, we headed back to the entrance to turn in our boots and go to the Sink holes. But before we did, our guide, Luis, showed us some old tortoise shells that were found on the property after a tortoise died. Tortoises can live to be over 100 years old! Luis told my wife she could climb into one of them, so she did.

My Wife in a Tortoise Shell

Next stop, giant sink holes. We got back in the truck and started driving back toward Pikaia Lodge. We have actually passed the sink holes every day we went to the docks. They look like massive craters next to the road. Our driver dropped us off in the middle of the road and we took a short walk down a path.

Path toward sink holes
Sink hole Sign

After a pretty short walk, we arrived at the crater. Pictures can’t really convey the size and depth of this hole. Look at the picture below and you can see a full sized tree growing in the crater and it doesn’t even reach the top.

Sink Hole
Sink Hole

After we were done walking around the craters, it was time to head back to the lodge. It was around 1pm, so we stopped in Elements dining room to have a quick snack. We chose the Octopus Wontons, which were quite good!

Octopus Wontons
Octopus Wontons

Since we had half a day left, we decided to walk around on Pikaia’s walking trails. The weather actually turned out to be the nicest afternoon we had an the lodge. We saw more Giant Tortoises, Cattle Egrets, Smooth-billed Ani birds, and Finches everywhere.

After some hilly hiking, we headed back to our room to get ready for dinner. Since it was so nice out, we took a panorama picture from our room.

Here are some of the pictures from our dinner.

The brings us to the end of the day. Tomorrow we are headed to North Seymour Island and Bachas Beach. We will post that story as soon as we can. Oh, almost forgot the Chocolates for the night!

Galápagos Islands
Explore this photo album by Adam Woods on Flickr!
Galápagos Islands
Videos from our trip to the Galápagos Islands.
Galápagos Islands - Adam Woods
Below you will find all the posts related to our trip to Ecuador and The Galápagos Islands.