Santa Cruz Island

Jun 01, 2018 - National Geographic Islander

Our morning began at Academy Bay on Santa Cruz Island. This is the second largest island of the archipelago. We spent time exploring the different visitor sites the island offers. Among them we have the breeding center of giant tortoises, Tomas de Berlanga School and giant tortoises in the wild roaming in the forest.

In the morning we landed at Puerto Ayora to visit the giant tortoise facilities at the Galapagos National Park Service. Here, tortoises are part of conservation and research programs.

Giant tortoises are part of captive breeding programs and there is also a breeding center where tiny baby tortoises are born and will eventually be repatriated to their home island. It is a long and slow process because it takes five years until they are capable of surviving on their own in the forest.

Once we explored Puerto Ayora we gathered at The Rock Café Restaurant for a drink and relaxed a little as we waited for the next activities. Moments later we boarded our buses to visit a Tomas de Berlanga School which is sponsored by Lindblad expeditions & The National Geographic Society. We were received and guided by the students who told us about their lives and education in the Galapagos Islands. Some of our guests visited a sugar cane and coffee plantation to learn more about the life of the farmers of the Galapagos Islands. Eventually we all ended up at a restaurant in the highlands where we had lunch. This restaurant is in one of the best places for visiting giant tortoises. As we had lunch we could see these giants slowly walking across the fields.

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About the Author

Juan Carlos Avila

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Juan Carlos was born in Quito, Ecuador. He spent part of his elementary schooling in the province of Cotopaxi, a beautiful area in the Ecuadorian Andes ringed by volcanoes. In 1989 his family moved to the Galápagos and settled in the highlands of Santa Cruz, the second largest island in this archipelago. It was here that Juan Carlos finished high school and gained his deep love for nature.

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