Santa Cruz Island

Sep 13, 2017 - National Geographic Islander


Today we were at Academy Bay on Santa Cruz Island and our destination was the Charles Darwin Research Station. We learned about the conservation programs carried out by this institution and the Galapagos National Park Service in order to restore populations of iconic animals and endangered ecosystems.

At the end of the morning visit we took buses to explore the highlands of Santa Cruz. On our way to the restaurant we took our guests to visit a local farm that produces coffee, sugarcane and rum. This is a traditional farm operated by the Cabrera family since the 1960s. It is an example of agriculture back when there was little or no tourism on the islands.  

The highlights of the highlands of Santa Cruz are many:  The forest, the land birds, the lava tunnel and the Galápagos giant tortoises. These gentle reptiles used to be taken as food by the early voyagers that came to the Galapagos for piracy, whaling & seal hunting. Giant tortoises were at the brink of extinction in past decades, but they have come back due conservation work started by the Galapagos National Park together with the Darwin Foundation. The population of giant tortoises has grown a lot, with a healthy population of more than 5,000 individuals. 

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About the Author

Juan Carlos Avila

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Juan Carlos was born in Quito, Ecuador. He spent part of his elementary schooling in the province of Cotopaxi, a beautiful area in the Ecuadorian Andes ringed by volcanoes. In 1989 his family moved to the Galápagos and settled in the highlands of Santa Cruz, the second largest island in this archipelago. It was here that Juan Carlos finished high school and gained his deep love for nature.

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