Santa Cruz Island

Aug 15, 2018 - National Geographic Islander

Today we visited Santa Cruz Island. Our destination was the Charles Darwin Research Station and the facilities at the Galapagos National Park. Here we were able to see giant tortoises and learn about their breeding program. We also visited the highlands to see giant tortoises in the wild!

As part of the breeding program carried out by the Galapagos National Park, we were able to observe some giant tortoises and babies which came from different islands. This program’s aim is to restore endangered populations. The visit was captivating as tortoises are the iconic species of these islands and this was a great day to visit them!

Mid-morning, we boarded buses to explore other places on our way to the highlands. We had a great time visiting the Tomas de Berlanga School which happens to be sponsored by the National Geographic Society and Lindblad Expeditions. Here, we were guided by the students of the school who shared their experiences about what life and education is like in the Galapagos.

We also visited a coffee and sugar cane plantation run by a local family and learned about the life of farmers in the Galapagos, as well as how brown sugar and rum are made. Galapagos coffee is of excellent quality and it was available for us - freshly brewed and delicious!

In the afternoon we explored the giant tortoises’ territory, which is a large part of western Santa Cruz, with a healthy population of over 5000 individuals roaming freely in the grasslands and forests. The population has risen due to conservation work over the years since the early 1970s.

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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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