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Santa Cruz Island

Dec 15, 2017 - National Geographic Islander


We started our morning at Academy Bay on Santa Cruz Island. Here we spent time among the giant tortoises. We also explored the Galapagos National Park facilities and breeding center.

In the morning we visited the giant tortoise facilities at the Galapagos National Park Service. This is the main institution that implements conservation work in the land and marine areas of the archipelago. Here there are giant tortoises that are part of captive breeding programs and also a breeding center where we saw tiny baby tortoises that will be kept for the next five years before they are repatriated to their home islands.

At mid-morning, after we explored Puerto Ayora, we gathered at The Rock restaurant for a drink and to relax a little. Shortly afterwards we boarded our buses to visit a local school. Here we were received and guided by the students who told us about their lives and about education in the Galapagos. We also had other options for the morning, such as a tour of a lava tunnel and a visit to a coffee and sugar cane plantation.

In the afternoon we stopped at a restaurant in the green misty highlands of Santa Cruz for lunch. This restaurant is on the migration path of giant tortoises! Today we had lunch as we saw the Galapagos giant tortoises walking and grazing in front of us. Later on we explored this vast tortoise reserve where more than 5,000 individuals live in the forest and grassland. Conservation work has restored these animals from the brink of extinction to healthy populations.

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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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