Charles Darwin Research Station & Highlands

Nov 06, 2018 - National Geographic Endeavour II

Today we visited Puerto Ayora, the capital of tourism of the Galapagos Islands. Early in the morning, we stopped at the Galapagos National Park and the Charles Darwin Research Station headquarters. We learned about the conservation efforts to restore several species of giant tortoises, including the species from Floreana that to our surprise is coming back from extinction. The first batch of giant tortoise eggs from Floreana already hatched in January, and we were able to see the little ones in their corrals.

We also visited the Lonesome George exhibit, to learn about the consequences of species extinction, and finally, we observed Super Diego, a male giant tortoise from Española who has fathered more than 1000 offspring. What an inspiration for conservation!

In the afternoon, we traveled by bus to the highlands of Santa Cruz. First, we stopped at El Trapiche, a locally-owned farm, to hear about the cultivation of chocolate, coffee, and moonshine. We had a great time learning from this family enterprise.

Afterward, we travel to Aquelarre, where we had lunch surrounded by a beautiful setting and lush vegetation typical of the highlands. Finally, we went to El Chato II, a private farm, to observe one of the most numerous populations of giant tortoises in the wild, as well as to explore a lava tunnel. 

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About the Author

Luis Vinueza


Luis arrived in the Galápagos Islands for the first time when he was 11 years old in 1983, and from that time on he knew that Galápagos would one day be his home. He returned to the islands in 1995 and spent 14 months camping in a tent. Seven of those months were spent on Española Island, studying the relationship of reproductive success and mate retention of Nazca boobies. In 1997, he started working for the marine lab at the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) on different fields including diving surveys to assess the patterns of marine biodiversity around the Galápagos Marine Reserve. His research included counting lobsters and sea cucumbers and participating as an advisor for CDRS during the negotiation process that led to the 1998 creation of the Galápagos Marine Reserve. 

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