San Cristobal Island

Sep 08, 2019 - National Geographic Islander


This morning dawned sunny and calm and for those who were up to watch the sunrise, the clouds looked like wisps of pink cotton candy. We had a hearty breakfast, and then all boarded the Zodiacs with our naturalists for a cruise into the harbor of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, a town of about 8-10,000 inhabitants. That doesn’t include the hundreds of sea lions that are draped and snoozing on the town’s fishing boats, barges, benches and docks!

We spent the morning in the highlands among dozens of tortoises of all sizes. Their shells were noticeably arched and different from the smooth domed shelled tortoises we saw in the highlands of Santa Cruz yesterday. The early whalers, sailors, and settlers ate the wild tortoises of San Cristobal; the national park is now raising them in semi-natural enclosures and releasing them back into the wild. We were thrilled to see them striding along, feeding, resting, aggressively displaying when two big males came together, and soaking in a pool. One determined tortoise paraded past us down the center of the trail and we moved aside so it could continue on it slow but steady way. We took many pictures!

After a splendid traditional Ecuadorian buffet lunch, and our well-deserved siesta, naturalist Benjamin Ayala, who was born in this town, gave an inspired talk about the history of San Cristobal and the Galapagos Marine Reserve. Then we headed by Zodiac to the main town dock. We followed a path with boardwalk and stairs and climbed to the top of Frigate Hill for a view over the bay where HMS Beagle anchored with Charles Darwin on board, over 180 years ago.

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About the Author

Lynn Fowler

Expedition Leader

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, and one of seven children, Lynn grew up in various university towns where her father was a professor of physics. Lynn obtained her B.A. in biology from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, followed by a master’s degree in zoology from the University of Florida, which encompassed a study of marine turtles in Costa Rica. She arrived in Galápagos in 1978 and became one of the first female naturalist guides working for the Galápagos National Park.

About the Photographer

Jonathan Aguas

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Jonathan was born into one of only a handful of families that reaches back five generations in Galápagos, in the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, on San Cristobal Island. He first left the islands when he won a highly-coveted scholarship to finish his studies in the U.S.  This was the start of his life-long passion for science and languages. He earned a bachelor’s degree in integrative biology from the University of Florida and later spent time in Europe, where he learned French. He is now fluent in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish.

About the Videographer

Dexter Sear

Video Chronicler

Dexter grew up in England where a love for exploring the countryside ignited a lifelong passion for discovering natural history and embarking on adventure. As a teenager, two trips to India sparked a fascination with insects and a desire to share a “hidden” macro world was born. He produced a popular insect website and authored a reader digest about cultural entomology.

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