Santa Cruz Island

Oct 05, 2018 - National Geographic Islander

Today we had a day full of contrasts at my home island of Santa Cruz. After so many days being surrounded by pristine natural environments, we encountered civilization again. This was necessary to learn the important role that humans play in the preservation of the Galapagos Archipelago. The morning was spent at the giant tortoise breeding center, a great place to see the enormous efforts put forth by the Charles Darwin Research Center and the Galapagos National Park to recover the populations of these emblematic animals of the islands.

Afterward, our guests had time to explore the cozy town of Puerto Ayora before boarding buses and heading towards the highlands. An optional visit to a local school was included, as well as a very interesting stop at a local farm called El Trapiche. Here we tried coffee, brown sugar and moonshine, all cultivated right here. After a well-deserved lunch in Rancho Manzanillo, we put on our rubber boots to look for giant tortoises in their natural habitat. What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon, strolling through the highlands with these gentle giants. Exploring Galapagos is a wonderful learning experience and offers an excellent example of sustainable tourism.

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About the Author

Vanessa Gallo


Vanessa Gallo’s grandparents arrived in the Galápagos Islands in 1936, making her the third generation of her family to live and work in this magical archipelago. She left the islands for the capital city of Quito for high school, where she discovered that learning foreign languages was one of her main interests. Coming from a family of naturalist guides, it was not a surprise that she also became one at the age of 17. Vanessa left the islands once again for Switzerland, where she earned a diploma in tourism and strengthened her language skills and knowledge of the travel industry. She has also travelled extensively to destinations including as Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, Canada, the Canary Islands, Mauritius, and many European countries.

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