Santa Cruz Island

Jun 06, 2018 - National Geographic Islander


After disembarking at the main dock of Puerto Ayora town, capital of Santa Cruz Island, we took a short bus ride and a short walk to the Galapagos National Park Breeding Center. We admired the many juvenile little tortoises that, as adults, will repopulate the islands little by little with their own descendants. We observed several adults from various islands as well.

Santa Cruz Island is the base for the two main institutions that work as partners in the preservation of this enchanted archipelago. The Galapagos National Park Service (GNPS) which is an Ecuadorian governmental organization and the world-renowned Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) both established in 1959. The latter institutions work close together in the processes of collecting, incubating, reproducing and ultimately saving some of the vanishing Galapagos Giant tortoises’ subspecies from extinction.

After visiting the Darwin Center, we had the pleasure to stroll along the lively small streets of Puerto Ayora. The fishermen dock is one of the most interesting and amusing places to visit. Today dozens of Brown pelicans and some Galapagos sea lions were around the fishermen, who were cutting fish, with the hope to obtain a piece.

Later on in the morning, we went by bus to the highlands to continue with the planned activities of the day. Before lunch, we made a couple of brief but meaningful stops before arriving to the restaurant where we had our lunch. We visited a spectacular lava tunnel and a traditional sugar cane press. In the latter place, a local Galápagos family showed us how they make a living by growing and processing sugar cane and coffee like in the old times.

After lunch, we went to look for Galapagos giant tortoises in their natural habitat.  In fact, one of the main attractions of the Galapagos Islands is the unparalleled experience to see the Galápagos Giant Tortoises in their home islands. All our guests always had high expectations to see the giant reptiles of the Galapagos in the wilderness.  We had a great time photographing and observing not only several gentle giants that were all over the place but beautiful bird species as well.

In the evening, after dinner, local dancers and musicians came to ship putting a golden finale to this day in paradise with joyful music and choreographies. After the artistic performance, we all went to bed after this long day, some a little tired, but with the satisfaction of having had marvelous new experiences and sightings in one of the ultimate nature paradises on Earth, the Galapagos Islands!

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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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