Santa Cruz Island

Nov 16, 2017 - National Geographic Endeavour II

I am happy to go back to the second largest island in the Galapagos, Santa Cruz. We have been away from civilization for almost an entire week, which is a privilege. However, it is also nice to be reminded about the other side of this archipelago’s life. This is a province of Ecuador; three percent of the total area of the islands is not National Park, with a population of 30.000 people, islanders who have their own way of living and communing with nature.

It is great to discover that iguanas and tortoises have right of way at Puerto Ayora, the largest town in the Galapagos, and that native and endemic vegetation fill the gardens of private houses and public buildings. Islanders are growing more and more conscious of the unique place they inhabit, and do their best to take care of the environment.

We dedicated the first part of the morning to the National Park Tortoise breeding center, with tortoises from different islands and ages. We visited a sugar cane press, and some of our guests went to the Tomas de Berlanga School to learn about one of our best projects in the Galapagos, giving back to the local community though education.

In the afternoon, we explored the highlands of Santa Cruz to find more tortoises, but in the wild. We saw a lava tunnel and felt transported to the times when this was all molten rock coming from inside the Earth while building up this island.

Musicians played for us once on board and we had a delicious dinner.

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About the Author

Paula Tagle

Expedition Leader

Paula grew up in Guayaquil where she obtained an undergraduate degree in geology from the Polytechnic University of Guayaquil. She enjoyed many field trips all around Ecuador and during her vacations traveled in Central and South America in the hope of learning more about her people and culture. The last year of her studies she worked at a mine looking for a more ecologically responsible way of recovering gold. Interested more in volcanoes than in raw materials, she came to Galápagos, a mecca for geologists, in 1992. She was bewitched by the other wonders of the islands and became a naturalist guide for the Galápagos National Park.

About the Photographer

Walter Perez

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Walter was born in a very small town on the mainland of Ecuador. His first trip to the Galápagos was when he was 12 years old, visiting friends and aunt, who had moved to the islands. From the first moment he saw the Islands, he fell in love with them and knew then where his future home would be.

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