Santa Cruz Island

Apr 11, 2018 - National Geographic Islander

Our guests always have high expectations when visiting this enchanted archipelago. One of their main interests is to have the incomparable experience to see the Galápagos giant tortoises in their home islands, in their natural habitat. Today we made this dream come true for all for we had a full day dedicated to these gentle giants. After disembarking at the main dock of Puerto Ayora town, a short bus ride and a short walk, we arrived to the Galapagos National Park Breeding Center. We admired with fascination the many juvenile little tortoises that, as adults, will repopulate the islands little by little with their descendants.

Santa Cruz Island is the base for the two main institutions that work as partners in the preservation of this enchanted archipelago. The Galapagos National Park Service (GNPS) which is an Ecuadorian governmental organization and the world-renowned Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) both established in 1959. The latter institutions work close together in the processes of collecting, incubating, reproducing and ultimately saving some of the vanishing Galapagos giant tortoises’ subspecies from extinction. After visiting the Darwin Center, we had the pleasure to stroll along the vibrant streets of Puerto Ayora. We enjoyed and took part of the routinely activities of the community. The fishermen dock is one of the most interesting and amusing places to visit. Today dozens of Brown pelicans and a Galapagos sea lion were around the fishermen, who were cutting fish, with the hope to obtain a morsel.

Later on, in the morning, we went by bus to the highlands to continue with the planned activities of the day. In our first stop, we crossed a short but beautiful lava tunnel. After this visit, we made a brief but meaningful second stop before arriving to the restaurant where we had our lunch. We visited a traditional sugar cane press. In this place, a local Galápagos family showed us how they make a living by growing and processing sugar cane and coffee in their property. After lunch, we went to look for Galapagos giant tortoises in their natural habitat.  We had a great time photographing and observing several individuals that were in the area.

In the evening, after dinner, local dancers and musicians came to ship putting a golden finale to this day in paradise with joyful music and choreographies. After the performance we all went to bed after this s long day, some a little tired perhaps, but with the satisfaction of having had marvelous new experiences and sightings in one of the ultimate nature paradises on Earth.

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About the Author

Carlos Romero

Expedition Leader

Carlos was born in Quito, Ecuador and grew up in Venezuela, where he lived for many years near the ocean and later the rainforest. He returned to Quito to study biology and specialized in the fauna of Ecuador. His main field of study was zoology with an emphasis on vertebrates. He has a doctorate in biology and a master’s in ecotourism and natural protected areas management. He designed a new curriculum for the largest university in Ecuador, the Central University— a masters in environmental management and administration of natural protected areas. Carlos has also taken part in various scientific projects and expeditions with the Biological Sciences Department of Quito’s Polytechnic University. He has published several scientific papers, including one about the bats of Galápagos and one about the vampire bat of mainland Ecuador.

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