At the center of the Galapagos Islands, Santa Cruz is the second largest island after Isabela. It is also the commercial capital and home to the province’s largest human settlement at around 20,000. The National Park and the Charles Darwin Foundation headquarters operate here with the task of protecting wildlife through science and patrol. The island’s highlands are highly productive, especially for agriculture and farming. Here we find the Galapagos giant tortoises, icons of the archipelago, in their natural state. Puerto Ayora is a large town where we can observe how people live in harmony with nature and carry out commerce under the umbrella of tourism.
National Geographic Islander II
Today we visited Santa Cruz Island in the central part of the archipelago. We explored the highlands to get to know the tropical rainforest found on top of the island’s volcano. Our first stop was a farm where we learned about the practice of farming some of the most important and iconic products of the Galápagos: sugarcane, coffee, and chocolate. The small farm opened its doors to show us how they process coffee, from crop to cup. We also saw how sugarcane is transformed into sugar, molasses, and liquor. After our visit to the agricultural fields, we explored the cloud forest in an area known as Los Gemelos. Here we walked through a thick forest covered by mosses, ferns, and Scalesia, an endemic plant species. In this beautiful area, we saw various bird species and interesting geological formations. Later in the day, we visited a tortoise reserve in the agricultural fields. We had the opportunity to get a close look at the prehistoric giants. We walked through the green forest where tortoises enjoy grazing in the pastures, refreshing themselves in the mud ponds, and posing for our cameras. The last visit of the day was to the Charles Darwin Research Station and the National Park headquarters, where we learned about breeding projects and conservation efforts in the islands. It was a great first day.