Santa Cruz Island

Aug 28, 2019 - National Geographic Islander


We woke up today with a beautiful view of Academy Bay in the town of Puerto Ayora. A soft misty rain, locally known as “garua,” characteristic of this time of the year, added a mysterious radiance that accompanied us during most of the day. When visiting the Galapagos, one main interest of guests is to have the unparalleled experience of observing Galapagos giant tortoises roaming within their home islands. To start this off, we visited the Galapagos National Park Breeding Center. Santa Cruz Island is the base for The Galapagos National Park Service (GNPS), which is an Ecuadorian governmental organization, and the world-famous Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) both established in 1959. These two institutions have been working as partners for several decades collecting, incubating, reproducing and saving some of the threatened Galapagos giant tortoise subspecies and varieties from extinction.

Later we had the pleasure to stroll along the vivacious streets of Puerto Ayora. After our morning explorations, we went to the highlands to continue our planned activities of the day. At our first stop, we crossed a short but spectacular lava tunnel. We then visited a traditional sugar cane artisanal farm run by a Galapagos family who showed us how they make a living growing, and processing sugar cane and coffee on their property.

After lunch we went looking for Galapagos giant tortoises in their natural habitat. With amazement and curiosity, our guests immersed themselves inside the giant tortoises’ territory. We all had a great time photographing and observing the individuals found all over the area. It was an amazing sighting!

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About the Author

Carlos Romero

Expedition Leader

Carlos was born in Quito, Ecuador and grew up in Venezuela, where he lived for many years near the ocean and later the rainforest. He returned to Quito to study biology and specialized in the fauna of Ecuador. His main field of study was zoology with an emphasis on vertebrates. He has a doctorate in biology and a master’s in ecotourism and natural protected areas management. He designed a new curriculum for the largest university in Ecuador, the Central University— a masters in environmental management and administration of natural protected areas. Carlos has also taken part in various scientific projects and expeditions with the Biological Sciences Department of Quito’s Polytechnic University. He has published several scientific papers, including one about the bats of Galápagos and one about the vampire bat of mainland Ecuador.

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