Santa Cruz island meets white sand beaches and the ocean full of white tip reef sharks. Oh, and did I mention lots of cute local shops in Puerto Ayora specializing in organic cotton t-shirts and selling strong roasted coffee beans. Also, restaurants serving fresh caught fish of the day and many authentic Ecuadorian dishes. Does that sounds magical? Welcome to Puerto Ayora, our first Galapagos island encounter. As soon as the bus pulled up and the guide said, “you are here” here was my first impression of the place.
Puerto Ayora located on Santa Cruz is the economic centre of the archipelago, and home to the Charles Darwin Research Station. The research centre offers the best opportunities for close encounters with giant tortoises.
Santa Cruz has more endemic plants than any “of the other islands and you are likely to see Galapagos giant tortoises in their natural habitat and perhaps even the bright red feathers of a vermillion flycatcher!Intrepidtravel
“The giant tortoise movements in Galapagos have a fundamental role in mantaining a healthy population. Understanding the ecological implications of these movements allows us to reduce the potential and real threats to their conservation.”
Charles Darwin Foundation
At the Charles Darwin Centre you can also visit Lonesome George, who died in 2012 and they preserved his body as he was the last of his kind of Galapagos tortoise (with a long neck, and hatched back shell). Here is a short 5 min BBC video honouring George : https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x13se5r
After a busy day of exploring, learning, and photographing it was time to head back to our boat for the night and reflect.