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Galapogas Highlights




Home to the largest town in the Galapagos, Puerto Ayora, the Island has a large variety of vegetation. Pit craters, Scalesia Forest, cacti and ferns are found in its vegetation zones. The island is comprised of a younger part formed by volcanic cones and lava and an older narrow strip of land formed by uplifted lava flows and tuffs.

** Santa Cruz is the only island with six different vegetation zones
** Animals: Giant tortoises, land and marine iguanas, variety of birds

carles darwin   black turtle    tortuga bay    cerro mesa 

Charles Darwin Station


Black Turtle Cove


Tortuga Bay


Cerro Mesa


Situated on the northern side of Santa Cruz, El Garrapatero is a gorgeous sandy beach surrounded by mangroves. A fresh water lake behind the beach is home to flamingos, herons, stilts and other shore birds. The beautiful turquoise waters provide a good opportunity for swimming and snorkeling.

** Gorgeous white sand beach, flamingos, herons, grebes, stilts
** Swimming, snorkeling, kayaking
** Dry landing


At 490m above sea level, Cerro Mesa provides an impressive view of the archipelago. It is an excellent location to observe numerous endemic plants as well as up to 7 subspecies of finch and the vermillion flycatcher. The area is characterized by a persistent drizzle (‘la garúa’) that falls horizontally throughout 8 months of the year. The west side features the largest crater on Santa Cruz.

** Spectacular views, finches, vermillion flycatcher, crater
** Walking, bird watching


The El Chato reserve is divided into two areas; Caseta and Chato. The trail begins at Santa Rosa, 22 km from Puerto Ayora, with the Caseta route being the more challenging. The reserve allows visitors to observe giant tortoises in the wild during the dry season, and is also a good place to spot short-eared owls, Darwin’s finches, yellow warblers, Galápagos rails and paint-billed crakes.

** Giant tortoises, finches, Galápagos rails
** Walking, horseback riding, bird watching


The white sand beach of Tortuga Bay gets its name from the black sea turtles that lay their eggs here. Other species to be seen include white-tipped sharks and marine iguanas and the salt lagoon behind the mangroves is often frequented by flamingos. The site is excellent for bird watching and for enjoying a relaxing swim.

** Beautiful white sandy beach, Galapagos green turtles, white-tipped sharks, pelicans, ground finch
** Swimming, snorkeling, surfing, bird watching

santacruz   lava tunnels   twin craters   garrapatero beach

Santa Cruz


Lava Tunnerls


Twin Craters


Garrapatero Beach


The lava tunnels on Santa Cruz were formed as the outer skin of molten lava solidified but the liquid magma inside continued flowing, leaving behind a series of empty tubes. Visitors can walk through these underground channels, often more than a kilometer in length, and may have the opportunity to glimpse barn owls here.

** Barn owls, finches
** Walking


Los Gemelos, or the Twin Craters, are located opposite each other on both sides of the road leading from Puerto Ayora to Baltra. The name is only figurative; not real craters, these formations were created by the collapse of surface material in underground fissures and chambers. The view is breathtaking.

** Pit craters, Scalesia Forest
** Short hiking


Black Turtle Cove is situated in the northern part of Santa Cruz. This inlet is surrounded by mangroves and is only accessible by dinghy. The shallow cove is a safe haven for young marine life. Black-tip and white-tip reef sharks, sea turtles, and a variety of rays are often spotted here.

** Hammerhead shark babies, rays, sea turtles, sea birds
** Dinghy ride


The Charles Darwin Research Station is home to tortoises ranging from 3-inches (new hatchlings) to 4-feet long. Sub-species of tortoises interact with one another and many of the older tortoises are accustomed to humans, stretching out their heads for a photo opportunity. The babies are kept until they are about four years old and strong enough to survive on their own.  “Turtles” live in water and “tortoises” live on land. You cannot touch the tortoises (or any other animals) in the Galápagos.

Giant tortoises in captivity
** Walking

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Cell: (+27) 83 463 2163