Santa Cruz Island

Mar 06, 2020 - National Geographic Islander


Our destination today was the Charles Darwin Research Station in Santa Cruz Island, the second largest island in the archipelago. Here, we visited the rearing center for giant tortoises, and had firsthand observation of the steps taken which make this program so successful. We were also given the opportunity to be in very close proximity to giant tortoises and their babies, as well at the famous Super Diego.

Later, activities such as bike riding, or visiting a local farm where sugar cane is harvested and converted into different products like juice, molasses and of course sugar cane fermentation and distillation, the base for rum. We also learned how local organic coffee beans are harvested, dried, roasted and ground. As a treat, we were able to taste all the local products – some guests had coffee, but many had rum…

After a well-deserved and tasty meal at a local restaurant, some opted to have a cool drink and relax back in the town of Puerto Ayora, while others chose to continue exploring the area in search of Geochelone porteri, Santa Cruz Island’s endemic species of giant tortoises. We had a great time walking in the grass and finding tortoises in their natural habitat – some were over 400 pounds!

Today’s visit was terrific, and our expedition is about to reach its peak. We have become a big family bound by the mystical magic called the Galápagos Islands.

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About the Author

Celso Montalvo

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Celso was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador. At the age of nine he arrived in the Galápagos for the first time and he was profoundly touched by nature, observation, and isolation.  When he saw the sharks, rays and turtles swimming in the bay, he was triggered by a sense of wonder that he did not feel before.  Celso believes education is key to preservation. After graduating from the Naval Academy at the age of 17 he moved to New York to continue his education.

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