Puerto Ayora and Highlands

Jul 13, 2018 - National Geographic Islander

Early this morning we arrived at Academy Bay, located on the south end of Santa Cruz Island.  Here we found the most populated town in the archipelago, which is Puerto Ayora.

After breakfast, we headed ashore on our Zodiacs and landed at the main dock in town. We got onto local buses that took us to the entrance of the Galapagos National Park headquarters. After walking for a while, we got to the place where we saw the project to breed giant tortoises in captivity.

Here we saw very young tortoises, many adults, and the embalmed body of Lonesome George. This morning the tortoises were feeding on their platforms, it was interesting to see how slowly but surely, these animals ate all their food.

Once we ended our walk in the breeding center, our guests had the chance to go to the town and later on, we got to the highlands. Santa Cruz is a tall island and it’s usual to have a thick cloud layer on the top. This island has thick vegetation and some large lava tunnels. We got inside one of the longest lava tunnels in South America, and it was impressive to walk through it.

This morning we got to a local school with some of our guests while others went to a local coffee farm. As we finished our activities for the morning, we headed to a local restaurant for lunch. This restaurant was right next to the National Park and wild giant tortoises were all around this place!

During the afternoon we got the chance to see tortoises in their natural environment; we saw more than forty tortoises roaming free. There were tortoises feeding, walking, wallowing in the mud, and sunbathing.

Towards the end of the afternoon, everybody returned on board and had a lovely evening with live music and dance with local musicians.

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About the Author

Gilda Gonzalez


Gilda was born in Ambato, located in the very heart of the Ecuadorian Andes. Since she was a child, she loved animals, often rescuing street cats and dogs. Her parents always made sure there were nature books and plenty of Jacques Cousteau’s videos at home. She graduated from high school with a degree in chemistry and biology. Afterwards, Gilda obtained a B.A. in tourism and hotel management in Quito. She also studied English, French and German, later spending two months in Brussels, Belgium.

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