Santa Cruz Island

Jan 24, 2019 - National Geographic Endeavour II


Last night we navigated from Santiago Island and arrived at Santa Cruz Island this morning. This island is located in the central realm of the Galapagos archipelago, and this is the home for the main headquarters of the Charles Darwin Station and Galapagos National Park Service. We stayed on this island all day long.

As we landed on the municipal dock, local buses took us to the entrance of the park, and from there we began walking towards the Fausto Llerena Giant Tortoise Breeding Center. This center has been running a very successful project to breed and release young tortoises back in the wild, rescuing populations of wild giant tortoises from extinction.

Later on, our guests had time to explore the town on their own and to walk along Academy Bay. One of the most colorful places to see is the fishermen’s market; there are often sea lions, pelicans and gulls waiting patiently for a piece of fish.

After spending some time in town, we went up into the highlands to a small local farm, where we visited with a local family who continues processing coffee, cocoa, and sugar cane in the same traditional way. This family also produces alcohol from sugar cane, known as aguardiente.

After lunch, we went to another farm, which is in the migratory route of Galapagos giant tortoises. We saw several males, females and juveniles. We observed them eating, resting, and one large male was found mating! These gentle giants seemed indifferent to our presence. For all of us, it is always an amazing experience to be able to see these giant reptiles in the wild.

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About the Author

Gilda Gonzalez

Naturalist

Gilda was born in Ambato, located in the very heart of the Ecuadorian Andes. Since she was a child, she loved animals, often rescuing street cats and dogs. Her parents always made sure there were nature books and plenty of Jacques Cousteau’s videos at home. She graduated from high school with a degree in chemistry and biology. Afterwards, Gilda obtained a B.A. in tourism and hotel management in Quito. She also studied English, French and German, later spending two months in Brussels, Belgium.

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