Santa Cruz Highlands and Galapagos National Park

Apr 18, 2019 - National Geographic Endeavour II

Today we traveled by bus from the Itabaca Channel to El Chato II, a farm where we could observe the land tortoises of Santa Cruz Island roaming free in their natural habitat. We learned about the ecology of this healthy tortoise population of approximately 8000 individuals. Afterwards, we traveled for 25 minutes along the humid zone, to visit El Trapiche Ecológico to observe the production of local coffee, chocolate and liqueur. Then we went to el Aquelarre, a beautiful restaurant, for lunch.

In the afternoon we traveled to Puerto Ayora, the tourist capital of the Galapagos with the largest human population. Right from the start we could feel the hot season and conditions typical of this island. We visited the Galapagos National Park and the Charles Darwin Research Station, both founded in 1959. The Charles Darwin Research Station provides critical advice to guide the management and conservation strategies implemented by the Galapagos National Park.

At the Galapagos National Park we visited the tortoise path, an exhibit that highlights critical issues such as the control and eradication of invasive species and the conservation efforts to restore critical populations of giant tortoises and finches.

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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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