Santa Cruz Island

Nov 15, 2018 - National Geographic Endeavour II

Today was tortoise day for our guests aboard National Geographic Endeavour II! We woke up in Academy Bay, Santa Cruz Island, and we disembarked on the town’s dock in Puerto Ayora. This is the most populated Island in the Galapagos, with a population of around 20,000 people, and it is home to the Galapagos National Park Headquarters and the Charles Darwin Research Foundation.

We started the morning with a visit to the Giant Tortoise Breeding Center, where we saw tortoises at every stage of life, from tiny babies in pens to adolescents and adults in corrals. Afterward, we spent some time in town before dividing into two groups for our trip up to the highlands. Some of us visited an old sugar cane farm that continues to produce sugar, alcohol, chocolate, and coffee as they used in old Galapagos when there was no electricity. The other group visited a local school, called Tomas de Berlanga, and were taken on a guided tour by the students.

In the afternoon we moved further up into the highlands of Santa Cruz Island and went to a private farm that happens to be located right in the middle of the migration path of giant tortoises. We were fortunate to spot several individuals grazing—it was incredible to get to experience them in their natural habitat.

The day ended aboard National Geographic Endeavour II with the visit of some local artisans, musician, and dancers. The Galapagos is a rare treasure, a national park and marine reserve that has people living in it, and also one of the best examples of park management and conservation in the world. It is possible to coexist with nature, and the Galapagos have shown this to be true!

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About the Author

Gianna Haro


Most of Gianna´s memories seem to be dreams, made on flawless white sandy beaches with black lava rock contours and gorgeous turquoise ocean waters. Most of it happened while barefoot, in an enchanting place that some people regard as an ideal natural laboratory, the Galápagos Islands. For her it was home. Gianna grew up going to the beach nearly every day, snorkeling in crystal clear waters, playing with wild flowers, having sea lions steal her ice cream, observing marine iguanas, and identifying invertebrates. The latter was by no means technically accurate—she dubbed each new discovery with its own made-up scientific name. At some point during those early years, being an observer became an innate ability and she knew she wanted to be a biologist. 

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