Santa Cruz Island

Dec 19, 2017 - National Geographic Endeavour II


Puerto Ayora is the harbor where our ship anchored this morning, and where more than half of the islanders live. It hosts the two most important institutions on the Galapagos, which are the National Park Service and the Charles Darwin Research Station, which we had the opportunity to visit today.

Around the Darwin Center there is a breeding program for the famous Galapagos giant tortoises. They spend in here their very first five years until they reach sizes big enough for been released. After all their numbers were extremely decimated during the 17th and 18th centuries by pirates and sailors, who used them as a source of food that could last for several months. Later our guests visited this highly populated harbor and did some shopping at the local boutiques. We also stopped at the fishermen’s market to enjoy a magnificent show full with birds and the omnipresent sea lions.

So much done, and it was still early! Later we divided into the groups to visit a school up in the highlands, and some of us took a short trip to a sugar cane mill. We saw demonstrations of the several products they make out of sugar cane like molasses, brown sugar and moonshine. We also got to sample their delicious coffee.

The time for lunch arrived and we all met at a restaurant with a delicious food, and to get ready for the last activity. There are quite a few properties on Santa Cruz where you can find one of the largest wild giant tortoises on the islands. And even more incredible is that at this time of year there are so many that you can be sure to see one, and our guests enjoyed a relaxing walk amongst this majestic, ancient species.

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About the Author

Celso Montalvo

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Celso was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador. At the age of nine he arrived in the Galápagos for the first time and he was profoundly touched by nature, observation, and isolation.  When he saw the sharks, rays and turtles swimming in the bay, he was triggered by a sense of wonder that he did not feel before.  Celso believes education is key to preservation. After graduating from the Naval Academy at the age of 17 he moved to New York to continue his education.

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