Santa Cruz Island

Jun 05, 2018 - National Geographic Endeavour II


Today we visited Puerto Ayora, the tourist capital of the Galapagos with the largest human population (≈30,000 people).

Puerto Ayora also harbors the Galapagos National Park and the Charles Darwin Research Station head, both founded in 1959. The Charles Darwin Research Station is one of the main institutions that 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 relatively new exhibit that highlights critical issues such as the efforts to restore critical populations of giant tortoises and finches. We saw super Diego, a male from Española that fathered many giant tortoises. Many of them have been already repatriated to Española.

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 to observe the elaboration of coffee, chocolate and liqueur. Then we went to el Aquelarre, for lunch, a beautiful restaurant. Finally, we visited El Chato II, a farm where we could observe the land tortoises of Santa Cruz Island roaming free in their natural habitat, we learnt about the ecology of this healthy population (~8000 individuals).

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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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