Santa Cruz Island: Galapagos National Park, The Charles Darwin Research Station & the Highlands

Mar 13, 2018 - National Geographic Endeavour II


Today we visited Puerto Ayora, the tourist capital of the Galapagos with the largest human population. Right from the start we could feel the hot season and conditions typical of this island. We saw a few places with graffiti, the wall where the bus picked us up and the cemetery were particularly beautiful and represent the deep connection between nature and humans.

We visited the Galapagos National Park and the Charles Darwin Research Station, both founded in 1959. The Charles Darwin Research Station provides critical advice to guide the management and conservation strategies implemented by the Galapagos National Park.

At the Galapagos National Park, we visited the tortoise path, a new exhibit that highlights critical issues such as the control and eradication of invasive species and the conservation efforts to restore critical populations of giant tortoises and finches. We also visited Lonesome George exhibit, the last tortoise of Pinta (passed away in 2012) to remind us about the fragility of the Islands.

Later, we travel for 20 minutes along the humid zone, to visit El Trapiche, a locally owned farm. There we observed the elaboration of coffee, chocolate and liqueur. Then we went to El Aquelarre, a beautiful restaurant surrounded by lush vegetation. Finally, we visited El Chato II, a private farm where we could observe the giant tortoises of the highlands of Santa Cruz. The doom shape predominates in this area were the vegetation is abundant.

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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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