Santa Cruz Island

Jul 17, 2018 - National Geographic Endeavour II

Passengers of the National Geographic Endeavour II spent a full day exploring the island of Santa Cruz. Having the largest human population in the archipelago, guests had a unique opportunity to gain a deeper insight into how humans interact with and utilize the incredibly unique and fragile environment of the Galapagos Islands. Santa Cruz has been the historical economic hub of the Galapagos province due to extensive development of the tourism industry. Centrally located, Santa Cruz Island allows visitors easy access to surrounding visitor sites. The establishment of the Charles Darwin Foundation in 1959 has caused Santa Cruz Island to develop as a scientific hub for the archipelago as well, with an active international and local research community.

Guests learned about the various research endeavors at the Charles Darwin Foundation, including the world famous giant tortoise captive breeding program. We reflected on the ways in which humans have caused negative impacts on the environment, including the extinction of the famous individual Lonesome George - the very last individual of his kind. We also discussed ways in which human innovation is imparting a positive impact on the environment with the example of Super Diego, the famous giant tortoise from Espanola whose breeding efforts at the Charles Darwin Foundation have saved an entire species.

After our Charles Darwin Foundation visit, guests traveled to the highlands of Santa Cruz to visit a local, family run farm called the Trapiche to see how spirits and coffee are produced. Some of our young explorers were put to work on the farm, running the sugar cane press and removing coffee shell residue. Don Adriano - the head of the farm - was kind enough show us around, teaching in detail how the farm operates and, of course, providing us with some laughs and entertainment. After our tour of the farm, guests enjoyed samples of sugar cane rum, organic coffee, pure cacao, and cheese.

Our final stop on our exploration of Santa Cruz Island was El Chato II, a privately owned farm and giant tortoise sanctuary. Guests were able to get up close to these magnificent creatures for a unique photographic opportunity. We also explored some of the famous lava tunnels that the highlands of Santa Cruz has to offer.

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About the Author

Alexandra Widman, Naturalist

Alexandra Widman, Naturalist

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