Santa Cruz

Jul 18, 2018 - National Geographic Islander

The economic center of the islands is the most populated, and the most dynamic of the group. We visited the Charles Darwin Research station where science and conservation programs are carried out to protect an important legacy for humanity. One of the most significant is that of the Galapagos giant tortoise captive breeding program, which intends to recover devastated populations from near extinction. Presently, this center holds five different species which otherwise would not have a chance to survive. The eggs produced here are incubated, and the babies are reared until they are about five years old (as pictured) and can return to the island and survive on their own.

After this visit, we headed back into town where we got to know some of the islands mixed culture composed of immigrants from different mainland regions. An interesting photography point is the local fish market where not only people get fish, but the animals that live around like pelicans, frigates, and sea lions also partake (animals do not pay).

That afternoon, we all visited the highlands for varied activities. Some visited a local school where the future leaders are educated. This was accompanied by a short visit to a lava tube in a local farm. Others took the sugar cane press options where several products are made: molasses, brown sugar, and even moonshine. We tried it all.

To conclude a wonderful day, we got to see the giant tortoises in their natural state, surrounded by wonderful greenery, and fabulous landscape. Upon our return to town, we still had some time to explore a bit more of this fantastic place with extraordinary wildlife everywhere at its best. What a privilege.

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About the Author

Patricio Maldonado

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Patricio, better known as Pato amongst his friends, was born in the Galápagos Island. His family moved to the islands from the mainland and settled on the island of Santa Cruz over thirty-five years ago. Pato had an enchanted childhood in the islands, where his keen interest in the wildlife of the Galápagos was born initially through catching lizards and observing how they lost their tails. His experiences in the islands have led him to teach visitors about the need to protect this rare and unique environment.

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