And what's better for that than a mascot?
Probably the most well-known animal in the Galapagos Islands (or, if you wanna be specific the Archipelagos of Columbus) is the Galapagos Land Turtle.
Now, I've heard some interesting misconceptions about these animals. Some people think they have a beard-- don't ask me why. Others think they're ten feet tall. Though none of these rumors are true, these animals are still pretty cool.
And yes, they do look slightly terrifying.
So big a full-grown man could ride on their shell, these turtles eat mostly leaves, if you couldn't tell. When pirates used to come and visit the islands, they would roll these big babies onto their ship and keep them alive until they got hungry. Horrible, I know. Especially when you think that these turtles can live to be more than one-hundred fifty years old.
The tortoises live so long that they only just reach sexual maturity at age twenty-five. Now, compare that to a cat, who reaches maturity at around six months, and you'll understand why these animals are so special.
To see these 'special animals', you can take a boat to Santa Cruz island, where some of the conservatories for these animals are held. Our cruise ship, the Galapagos Explorer II, had this trip included in our package.
What's fascinating about these conservatories is that you can see little baby tortoises that could fit in the palm of you hand tottering around, and full-grown tortoises slowly meandering around. One pair even got into a violent fight when we visited. If you think these turtle's can't move fast, then you're dead wrong.
Be warned-- Santa Cruz is much more lush than the other Galapagos islands. The ants there are horrible, so make sure to wear boots. However, it is very misty, green, and beautiful.
While I'm not sure if you can see the tortoises in the wild, the conservatories provide an adequate substitute. Though these special reasons do not have a beard, I have to say, there's a valid reason that they're the mascots of Galapagos.
Just look at that face!