Santa Cruz Island

Oct 24, 2017 - National Geographic Endeavour II


The icons of Santa Cruz are the Galápagos giant tortoises. These large reptiles have made a great come back since the establishment of conservation efforts in the Galapagos Islands. Some of them are tiny babies born here at the breeding center as part of the restoration programs carried out by the Galapagos National Park Service, and eventually all of these little creatures will be repatriated to their home islands, including Santiago, Floreana, Pinzon, Española, and Santa Cruz and many others.

At the end of our visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station we took a bus ride to the cool misty highlands of Santa Cruz for lunch and more exploration in the highlands. We visited a lava tube that happens to be in the giant tortoise territory. Lava tubes are typical geological formations that occur due to the volcanic origin of the archipelago and lava flows.

In the late afternoon, we spent time at the tortoises’ reserve. This place is unbelievable! The green vegetation, the grass and the pond surrounded by trees are the perfect habitat for the giant tortoises. They do not need to go elsewhere for food, water or shelter. They have everything on this fertile land.

The landscape was dotted with these reptiles, and some of them were even walking on the roads! Our guests had a wonderful time seeing and photographing these incredible creatures.   

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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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