Charles Darwin Research Station and Beyond

May 16, 2019 - National Geographic Endeavour II

Early this morning, we woke up in this beautiful bay full of life, Port Isidro Ayora, our hometown in Santa Cruz Island.

We visited the Charles Darwin Research Station and the National Park Giant Tortoises Breeding Centre; the two as partners have managed to save the giant tortoises of the Galapagos from going extinct. This is the reason why the Galapagos National Park Service, together with the Charles Darwin Foundation, are among the most respected conservation institutions in the world.

The program started back in the 1960s with the Española species, with a giant tortoise called Diego being the most emblematic of them all, an alpha male who successfully mated with all of the females from this unique program. The population of this tortoises species was diminishing due to the presence of introduced goats and donkeys to the islands, who decimated the crops that the tortoises depend on for sustenance. After years of research and hard work, the programs have been a 100% success, and today over 4000 young tortoises have been repatriated to their island of origin and are now reproducing in the wild without human intervention. Today, the most important program is the recovery of the Floreana Island giant tortoises, and species that was considered extinct forever, but here they are to tell the world that conservation and restoring near-extinct species is possible, here in the Galapagos Islands.

After our visit to the research station and breeding centre, a small group of guests went to visit the Tomas de Berlanga School, before lunch, and we were happy to meet the students and to learn all about this unique educational program. In the afternoon the giant tortoises in the wild kept our groups excited and busy. It was amazing to see them in their natural habitat and our photographers took the pictures they had come to the islands for. Walking with these incredible creatures made us feel transported back in time… maybe a hundred years ago, when the tortoises roamed the islands by themselves.

What a fantastic day in the Galapagos Islands.

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About the Author

Andres Vergara

Andres Vergara


Andrés was born and raised in Quito, Ecuador. From a very young age, he spent his vacations in Playas on the coast of Ecuador where his grandparents ran a hotel. There he developed a keen interest for nature and the outdoors. He studied primary and secondary school in La Condamine, a French Institution in Quito.

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