Santa Cruz Island

Jan 23, 2020 - National Geographic Endeavour II

Charles Darwin Foundation and Highlands

This morning we visited the renowned Giant Tortoise Breeding Center at the headquarters of the Galapagos National Park in the central island of Santa Cruz. The reason to visit this breeding center is to understand the importance of the conservation projects that the park guardians have been achieving these past 50 years or so. The baby tortoises from islands like Santiago or Pinzon are well taken care at this breeding center until they reach a certain age when they can go back to their natural habitat and predators won’t be able to harm them.

During the walk we could also see the giant cactus opuntia that were blooming with beautiful yellow flowers that get pollinized by the cactus finch and carpenter bees. The candelabra cactus were also in bloom.

Before going to lunch in the highlands we stopped at the a sugar cane and coffee farm where we could see the entire process of producing brown sugar, roasted coffee and pure chocolate blocks.

In the afternoon, after a hearty lunch at a farm up in the highlands, we visited a farm that is a natural reserve for the Santa Cruz tortoises, which also happen to be the largest of all the species.

It was quite delightful to walk among guava trees, finches and the beautiful and gentle giants that walk slowly to find a place to eat and rest for the day.

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About the Author

Magdalena Terneus


Magdalena Terneus has always been passionate about nature, and an animal lover ever since she can remember.   Magdalena studied Natural Science- Biology at Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania on a full scholarship, with the idea of working as a naturalist guide in the Galapagos Islands.  After graduating from Lock Haven, she went back to Ecuador and worked in the La Selva Lodge in the Ecuadorean rain forest.   After working in the rain forest, she took the Galapagos guide course, so she could work as a guide in the Galapagos Islands.

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