Galapagos Cruise Report: Santa Cruz Island

From the National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos August 18, 2010

The western side of the Galápagos has been left behind, no more sight of fresh lava flows. But, still the highlights are at their most in the center of the Galápagos archipelago.

Today we visited Santa Cruz Island. This is the major human settlement with over fifteen-thousand inhabitants living in different regions of the island. Here, we have the Charles Darwin Research Station, home of hundreds of giant tortoises of different ages and the legendary Lonesome George.

The Galápagos National Park and Charles Darwin Research Station are partners in conservation. These two institutions have been working together for over fifty years protecting and restoring endangered habitats and species throughout the archipelago with vast achievements.

Puerto Ayora in the major settlement, this place is a lively island town with colorful buildings, shops and art galleries along the main street. Here, we boarded the buses to go to the highlands for lunch and the second part of our activities.

In the early afternoon we headed to the tortoises reserve at a higher altitude on Santa Cruz. After a thirty-minute ride we found ourselves in a lush green forest with flocks of birds (Darwin’s finches) and the emblematic giant reptiles slowly foraging on a low grassland along with cattle egrets.

Walking into this scene of large giant tortoises in the vast grassland is like travelling to the past when large reptiles dominated the land. You see them like moving boulders, shining in the sun and moving ever so slowly – as if they knew they got long lives and there’s no hurry or schedule whatsoever.

Just another unforgettable day in paradise!

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