Santa Cruz Island

Apr 10, 2019 - National Geographic Islander


Today we had a full day of activities at Santa Cruz Island, one that is home to the largest population across the Galapagos Archipelago. Tortoises were on today’s agenda, and we wasted no time getting to it. Our first stop was the Galapagos tortoise breeding center. The center does well to showcase conservation efforts on Galapagos over the past 60 years. All this done to revive one of the archipelago’s most emblematic species, and to share the historical success with those visiting.

The little and very young giant tortoises are simply adorable, being roughly the size of a donut, and guests were fascinated that an individual should start life so small and grow to the size the adults exhibit here. The weight of a fully mature adult may reach weights in excess of 500 pounds!

Afterward there was time to spend in the town of Puerto Ayora, where after then we headed into the highlands to continue our tortoise tour. To prime ourselves, however, we first visited a walk-in lava tunnel, followed by a local coffee and sugar cane plantation. The latter gave guests the chance to see the mechanics of coffee production as well as the wide application sugar cane has. Before we knew it, the time for tortoises had arrived, but this time we saw them outside confinement, which made for an encounter more intimate with the area’s wildlife than any of us had prior. We enjoyed the remainder of the day, filled with hope for the future of tortoises on Santa Cruz as well as gratitude for our being able to witness them in such a warm and flourishing setting. Great times in Santa Cruz!

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About the Author

Vanessa Gallo

Naturalist

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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