From the National Geographic Endeavour in the Galapagos

Dec 06, 2012 - National Geographic Endeavour

Santa Cruz giant tortoise

Santa Cruz Island

Today we arrived at Santa Cruz Island and in the morning headed towards the breeding center of giant tortoises. It was our chance to see one of the most successful projects of the Galápagos National Park, which is run by our government in a great effort to restore the population of giant tortoises of the islands.

One of the areas in the center has juveniles between two and three years old and this morning they had their body weight, length and diameter of the carapace taken to see how they are doing. They all looked healthy and after a quick inspection were released back in their corral.

After our walk around the breeding center, our guests had some time to explore around the town of Puerto Ayora. Later on the morning some of our guest had the chance to go biking while others went on local buses to the highlands of Santa Cruz. We stopped at a sugar cane mill, where we met a local family that owns a small farm where they grow sugar cane, coffee and bananas. They also produce their own rum and have cows and chicken. It was very interesting to see the how the locals live on small farms and the way they are self-sustainable and live in harmony with nature.

In the afternoon, after having lunch in a local restaurant, we got onto our buses again and went to look for Galápagos giant tortoises in the wild. There were many tortoises, some very active while others were sleeping. These animals get into the local farms as they were built right on the route the tortoises had used for several generations. Every year tortoises migrate from the highlands to the arid lowlands in the rainy season to mate, and then at the beginning of the dry season these migrate to the highlands to feed.

After looking for giant tortoises we headed back to Puerto Ayora and then to our ship, where we had a great evening.

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About the Author

Gilda Gonzalez


Gilda was born in Ambato, located in the very heart of the Ecuadorian Andes. Since she was a child, she loved animals, often rescuing street cats and dogs. Her parents always made sure there were nature books and plenty of Jacques Cousteau’s videos at home. She graduated from high school with a degree in chemistry and biology. Afterwards, Gilda obtained a B.A. in tourism and hotel management in Quito. She also studied English, French and German, later spending two months in Brussels, Belgium.

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