Your Travel Experience with Galapagos PRO
Santa Cruz Highlands and El Chato Reserve
Your guide will greet you in the arrivals area of the airport. After a short bus and ferry crossing over the Itabaca Canal, you will make your way in to the highlands of Santa Cruz.
As you venture into Santa Cruz's higher altitude areas, you will notice the changes in the vegetation as the climate becomes wetter and warmer. The earth in the upper altitudes is rich in minerals. Coffee plantations and fruit orchards line the streets and giant tortoises roam around at ease in their natural environment. The Scalesia forests in this area offer the opportunity to discover endemic species of the Galapagos Islands, as well as giant cacti and a variety of deciduous trees and edible fruits.
At the turtle reserve El Chato, you will see the Galapagos giant tortoises in their natural habitat. Nowhere else will you get so close to those animals! (Please maintain the minimum distance!)
At Charles Darwin Station, you will get a chance to learn more about the friendly giants that you met in the highlands in the morning. Here, scientists from around the world research the many special tortoise subspecies that are endemic to the Galapagos islands. The highlight of the research center is the breeding station, Fausto Llerena, where baby turtles take a training course over rocks, branches and sandy stairs in preparation for their upcoming release into the wilderness.
Visitors leave the station with a stronger understanding of the tortoises, iguanas and much of the flora native to the islands. You'll be impressed by the tiny tortoises, often only the size of your hand, who will grow over the next 100 years to become as large as the wild adults you saw this morning!