Santa Cruz Island

Mar 21, 2019 - National Geographic Endeavour II

Guests onboard National Geographic Endeavour II spent the day exploring both the coastal lowlands and highlands of Santa Cruz Island. We began the day with a tour of the Charles Darwin Research Station. Guests learned about the important and interdisciplinary research conducted at this world-renowned research station. We visited the giant tortoise captive breeding center, discussing the impacts that humans have had on wild populations and the efforts that the Galapagos National Park make to replenish them.

After our tour to the research station, we boarded buses and made our way up the mountain to El Trapiche, a small, family-run farm in the highlands where several organic crops like coffee and sugar cane are cultivated. Guests learned how the family produces products from sugar cane, including: brown sugar, molasses, and rum. Samples of each product were offered to guests; Don Adriano, the patriarch of the farm, gave a special toast before guests drank sugar cane rum produced on the farm. After visiting the farm, we made our way to Alquelarre, a beautiful little restaurant nestled in the highlands of Santa Cruz island.

After lunch, we made our way to El Chato II to observe giant tortoises in their natural habitat and lava tunnels. Guests had a special opportunity to get the perfect shot of these gentle giants eating guava and lazily strolling along the grassy terrain. We discussed the ecology and evolutionary history of these emblematic creatures. After observing the giant tortoises, guests walked through lava tunnels that run throughout the subterranean area of the farm. Lava tunnels are formed after a volcanic eruption when lava flows leave their hardened, empty shells.  After our visit to El Chato II, guests had optional free time in the port before boarding the ship for the evening.

Artisans boarded the ship that afternoon to demonstrate their artistic process in constructing some of the beautiful items found in our Global Gallery. That evening, guests enjoyed dancing and musical performances from a local artist collective.

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About the Author

Alexandra Widman


Alexandra grew up on the southeast coast of the United States. She has a deep love for the ocean that stems from her childhood spent surfing, kayaking, diving and fishing on the Intracoastal Waterway. Alexandra has lived on San Cristóbal Island for the past 6 years, having fallen in love with Galápagos the moment she arrived as a fledgling marine ecologist. She holds a bachelor’s degree in marine biology and a master’s in environmental science and management from the University of California Santa Barbara.

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