At 3 PM we met our group at the dock in Puerto Ayora. We had just enough time to buy an ice cream to cool us off after a quick hot walk from Tortuga Bay. Most of the group is new people, whom we have just met. We boarded a bus for our first trip in the Galapagos highlands, which has a distinctly different climate that the arid zones not far from the shores. As we gradually ascended, things became more and more green, and trees became taller and leafy (no cacti to be seen up here). Away from the town, we passed farms growing banana and papaya, and some cattle with white cattle egrets everywhere (a heron-like bird that feeds by picking ticks off the backs of cattle). We also passed through a few small towns.
Our first stop was a property situated on the edge of the Galapagos national park. Because of this location, giant tortoises often migrate back and forth from the park and into this area, which is privately owned. While the owners used to grow coffee and passionfruit, they realized a bigger opportunity to give tourist an opportunity to see tortoise in the wild. After a few minutes, we came across a large giant tortoise sleeping in the shade of a bush, and later we saw one wallowing in a muddy pool.
Next stop was very large lava tube. A lava tube forms when a lava flow begins to cool and solidify. The outside of the flow cools and hardens first, while inside, the hot lave continues to flow downwards. When the lava stops flowing, it can leave a tunnel or a "lava tube", which then looks like a cave. This one was very large, about 20 feet across and 50 feet high in places. We were able to walk several hundred meters and that wasn't the end. Very cool.