Highlands of Santa Cruz and Charles Darwin Research Station Visit17 Aug 2015, Posted by Galapagos Islands Blog in
We leave Academy Bay by bus 15 km up to the lush highlands of Santa Cruz Island. From there a short drive across the farming area will lead us to El Manzanillo, a site recently opened to visitors at the northern edge of the Giant Tortoise Reserve.
Manzanillo is on the natural path tortoises take every year as they either migrate to higher moist locations during the garúa season (June-September), or when they descend to the warmer lowlands during the wet season. Year round, tortoises can be seen grazing on the surrounding vegetation, or wallowing in muddy banks or in a small red-coloured pond (impressively colored by surface red pond-weeds). The area is teeming with life: chirping vegetarian-, small-tree, large-tree and woodpecker finches, mockingbirds and flycatchers, as well as ducks, herons and gallinules make this an exciting visit.
From the highlands, we travel back down to the coast, to the headquarters of the Galápagos National Park Service and The Charles Darwin Research Station, located side by side on the outskirts of Puerto Ayora. There is an interpretation centre open to the public and we can familiarize ourselves with the dedicated work of the tortoise rearing program. Guests return to the Municipal Dock.