Santa Cruz: Galapagos National Park & Charles Darwin Research Station and Highlands

Feb 13, 2018 - National Geographic Endeavour II


Today we visited Puerto Ayora, the capital of tourism of the Galapagos Islands. Early in the morning, we visited the Galapagos National Park headquarters and the Charles Darwin Research Station. We learned about the conservation efforts to restore several species of giant tortoises, including the species from Floreana that once was considered an extinct species. To our surprise, the first batch of giant tortoise eggs from Floreana already hatched in January and we were able to see the little ones in their corrals.

We also visited Lonesome George exhibit to learn about the consequences of species extinctions and finally we observed Super Diego, a giant tortoise from Española that has been able to produce more than 2000 offspring, what an inspiration for conservation.

In the afternoon we travel by bus to El Trapiche, a locally own farm to learn about the elaboration of chocolate, coffee and moonshine. We had a great time learning from Adrian and his family. Afterwards we travel to restaurant Aquelarre, a beautiful setting to have lunch and enjoy the lush of the highlands. Finally, we travel to El Chato II to observe one of the most numerous population of giant tortoises in the wild. We watched them feeding, mating and resting. 

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About the Author

Luis Vinueza

Naturalist

Luis arrived in the Galápagos Islands for the first time when he was 11 years old in 1983, and from that time on he knew that Galápagos would one day be his home. He returned to the islands in 1995 and spent 14 months camping in a tent. Seven of those months were spent on Española Island, studying the relationship of reproductive success and mate retention of Nazca boobies. In 1997, he started working for the marine lab at the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) on different fields including diving surveys to assess the patterns of marine biodiversity around the Galápagos Marine Reserve. His research included counting lobsters and sea cucumbers and participating as an advisor for CDRS during the negotiation process that led to the 1998 creation of the Galápagos Marine Reserve. 

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