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Galapagos Tortoise

The Galapagos Islands are named after the giant tortoises that live on the islands - 'galapago' in Spanish means 'saddle' and refers to the tortoise shell. We've given you some of the fast facts on the Galapagos Tortoise below, but there's nothing like learning first-hand. On our 10-day Galapagos Land and Sea Adventure 'Tortuga' trip, you'll visit a giant tortoise breeding centre and hike in the Santa Cruz highlands, to see these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. 

Galapagos Tortoises

The 3 Types

The Galapagos tortoise comes in three versions, which are distinguished by the shape of their shells, sizes, colors and behavior: Galapagos Tortoises1. Saddle-Backed: Mostly found on the lower drier islands. They have raised shells, long necks and limbs.
2. Dome-Shaped: Found on the upper parts of the islands, where plant growth is dense and thick. They have round shaped shells, very short necks and limbs.
3. Intermediate: This third race is a mix between the two described above.

 

Old and wise

The Galapagos Giant Tortoise can keep growing for 30 or 40 years, reaching almost 1 1/2 metres (5 feet) and weighing up to 230 kilograms (500 pounds). These are the largest tortoises in the Galapagos Tortoiseworld and the longest living of all vertebrates (animals with backbones). Because of their life span, it's possible that some of the old-timers in the Galapagos Islands that are around today, hatched about the time of Darwin's visit in 1835! 

The oldest giant tortoise on record lived 152 years, but reliable records of tortoise life spans aren't available yet because people haven't been observing them long enough.

Then and now

In the 19th Century sailors and whale hunters visited the Islands and quickly discovered that these giant tortoises were an excellent food supply, being easy to catch and able to live for months without food or water. In vast numbers the animals were flipped on their backs and stacked in the cargo hold of ships, giving the sailors a ready source of fresh meat when there was no land in sight. Sadly, many thousands of giant tortoise were collected this way and today there are only around 15,000 left, a fraction of what there once was. 


 

  • Tortuga Galapagos Land and Sea Adventure

    • 10 Days
    • Galapagos
    • From US$4,599

    4.53 out of 5 (from 1113 reviews)

    Tortuga

    The 'Tortuga' is a fantastic way to discover several of the Galapagos Islands, especially for landlubbers. In a relaxed and active manner, you’ll snorkel, dive, hike and cycle, and cruise between the multitude of stunning islands in our comfortable dive boat, the ‘Pacific’ while staying on dry land each night. Starting with a short flight to San Cristobal Island, highlights of this incredible trip include snorkelling with turtles, rays and tame reef sharks, kayaking in a beautiful calm bay and hiking up an island volcano with one of the largest active calderas in the world. You’ll get up close to some of the most intriguing and docile wildlife on the planet, with visits to tortoise breeding grounds and iguana colonies, and even sharing the beach with inquisitive sea lions. We explore amazing lava tunnels, cycle through local townships and learn the mysterious history of Floreana Island.

Galapagos Tortoises

"If you ever get the chance, make it happen..."

“The Galapagos Islands turned out to be everything you hear about and more! My style of travel has never been geared towards tours or trips (EQ Type: Authentic Experiencer), however I signed up for the Tortuga trip last minute to join my parents and couldn't have been more pleased! Being a land-based tour vs. boat tour we were able to support the local economies on the various islands we visited while experiencing the authentic and incredible wildlife and landscapes the Galapagos has to offer. We got to enjoy a variety of local restaurants rather than eating the same buffet meal similar with other tours and stay in a range of different accommodations along the way. Our tour guide Pablo however, really made the trip and I am not sure if it would be quite as amazing without him. The passion, knowledge and love he has for the Galapagos Islands glimmered through every day we were with him and the smile shared with each new experience was priceless. The only disappointment was that we didn't know extra activities, diving in particular, were non-refundable if a illness or anything else comes up last minute - as they often do with diving. Saying this, I would very strongly recommend the Tortuga tour to everyone. If you every have the chance, make it happen and you absolutely will not be disappointed. Each day we were left amazed and utterly shocked at how much we were able to see and do with each activity. I have traveled to some pretty spectacular places around the world but this trip is a once in a lifetime experience.”
Myla Yeomans-Routledge's Review Image
– British Columbia, Canada
Tortuga, December 2016
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It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.

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