Santa Cruz Island

Aug 24, 2017 - National Geographic Endeavour II

The morning is a bit chilly, it is foggy and drizzles, this morning we had the opportunity to visit a populated Island. Santa Cruz, the second largest Island in the archipelago, has the biggest population, and so many natural areas, where is possible to find wild life.

We started our morning having breakfast, and then all our guests went to visit the national park’s headquarters to see the rearing program of giant tortoises and the Darwin Center area. Our exploration lasted two hours; here we interpreted the different programs we have to save some animals that are in danger of extinction, and told them about the eradication programs to control the alien species of animals that are a threat for these fragile ecosystems. We visited several corrals of the giant tortoises, walking through the center we came across little baby tortoises, the sizes of small bread loafs, these are going to become true giants, most reaching weights of nearly six hundred pounds in nearly one hundred years. After learning, all about the big efforts done by the park to restore the ecosystem of giant tortoises our guests had some time to walk through town, visiting the local shops or just simply mingling with the Galapagos inhabitants. Shortly afterwards, we boarded our buses and stopped at a sugar cane mill, this was a local business run by a local family, they were very friendly showing us their farm around and letting us try some of the different products they produce out of the sugar cane juice.

Lunch took place in the highlands of Santa Cruz at a very nice restaurant immersed in a cloud forest, after lunch we organized groups to go explore the highlands, with the mission of finding the endemic Santa Cruz tortoise, our mission was very successful because we lost count since they were everywhere. Walking around this forest of these giant creatures is something very special a unique, they resembles a nowadays Jurassic park. These humongous creatures were eating constantly on grass and others gathered in fresh water pond for thermoregulation.

Our day became complete with a nice and colored presentation at night, of some of the local musicians and dancers; they performed for our guests and showed them the local music and culture. All guests had a great experience at Santa Cruz, observing the two sides of the National Park - the populated areas and the natural reserves.

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About the Author

Christian Saa

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Christian was born on the island of Isabela in the Galápagos archipelago. He grew up on a farm and had a magical childhood devoid of cars, electricity, telephones—just pure nature and playful sea lions along the beach. At the age of seven, he moved with his family to Santa Cruz Island, the economic hub of the Galápagos Islands. His father began to work in tourism and took Christian around the islands during school vacations. It was during this time that Christian learned to love and understand the real value of this unique archipelago, and he decided to devote his life to its stewardship. A lifelong passion for nature and its creatures took root in his heart, and he eventually decided to become a naturalist, which he has now been doing for 18 years now.

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