Santa Cruz Island

Jul 27, 2018 - National Geographic Islander

In the morning, we landed at Puerto Ayora to visit the giant tortoise facilities at the Galapagos National Park. Here, tortoises are part of conservation and research programs. The goal is to entirely restore endangered populations on different islands.

Giant tortoises from different islands are part of captive breeding programs and there is also a breeding center where tiny baby tortoises are born and grow until they are large enough to be repatriated to their home islands. It is a long and slow process because it takes five years or more until they are capable of surviving on their own.

At the end of the visit, we explored Puerto Ayora and gathered at The Rock Café restaurant for some drinks before we boarded our buses to visit Tomas de Berlanga School, which is sponsored by Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic Society. We were received and guided by the school students who explained to us the life of a student in the Galapagos, and education in the Galapagos Islands. There was another option for our guests as well. It was a visit to a sugar cane and coffee plantation to learn more about the life of the settlers of the Galapagos Islands. After all of these activities, we ended at a restaurant in the area known as the Highlands for lunch. As we had lunch we could see the giant tortoises slowly walking across the fields. They live here by the hundreds!

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About the Author

Juan Carlos Avila

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Juan Carlos was born in Quito, Ecuador. He spent part of his elementary schooling in the province of Cotopaxi, a beautiful area in the Ecuadorian Andes ringed by volcanoes. In 1989 his family moved to the Galápagos and settled in the highlands of Santa Cruz, the second largest island in this archipelago. It was here that Juan Carlos finished high school and gained his deep love for nature.

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