Santa Cruz Island

Sep 07, 2017 - National Geographic Endeavour II


The island is the second largest of the Galapagos Archipelago, with a surface of almost 100 sq. km, and a population estimated in 20.000 people.

This is a must stop for visitors, because here are based two important organizations, the Charles Darwin Research Station and the Galapagos National Park Service, these two groups have been running several conservations projects, since 1959. One of the most important programs is the breeding in captivity of five species of giant tortoises. One of this species from the island of Espanola, was at the verge of extinction, because the population of them was of only 14 individuals, twelve female and two males. Nowadays the center has helped this few tortoises, to the point the population has growth to around 2000 of them.

After this very interesting visit,  we walked through the town of Puerto Ayora, and we had the chance to see some souvenirs shops, local art and craft galleries and perhaps the main attraction in town, the fishing dock, where local fishermen bring their daily catch and birds and sea lions are ready to catch a piece.

Soon after this visit, we went to a sugar cane farm, located about 16 km from the town. Here we learn about the process of artisanal distillation of buzz, the making of brown sugar, coffee from its beans among other interesting things. Later on, we drove to a local country style restaurant, where we had a wonderful lunch.

A couple of hours later, we started a hike, at another close by farm, to see the giant tortoises in the wild, this beautiful animals, were wondering around the forest of this place, and we end seeing about 20 or more of them. It was amazing to see them thriving in their natural environment, were they have been living for thousands of years.

At the very end of the visit, we pay a visit to a lava tube, another amazing volcanic feature of Santa Cruz Island.

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About the Author

Lenin Villacis

Naturalist

Lenin was born in the capital city of Quito, where he grew up surrounded by the mountains and volcanoes of the Andean region of Ecuador. At age 17, he received a scholarship to study in Mexico, and a few years later traveled to the U.S. and finished college with a degree in Earth sciences. In 1994 he returned to Ecuador to undergo a training course to become a naturalist guide for his incredibly rich and biodiverse home country, and started working in the Amazon rain forest of Ecuador. 

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