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
Our day began with a mesmerizing exploration of Roca Redonda and Punta Vicente Roca. The morning sun cast a golden glow on the towering cliffs that define this part of Isabela Island. We navigated along the coast, observing the diverse marine life that thrives in these nutrient-rich waters. Notable encounters included playful Galapagos sea lions, elegant flightless cormorants, and sea turtles. Snorkeling enthusiasts were treated to a world beneath the waves and non snorkelers saw just as much from our glass-bottom Zodiac. In the afternoon, our expedition led us to the pristine shores of Fernandina Island. This uninhabited island is a haven for wildlife. The highlights were undoubtedly the iconic Galapagos marine iguanas basking on black lava rocks. As we carefully navigated the island's trails, we marveled at the otherworldly landscapes shaped by ongoing volcanic activity. A sighting of a Galapagos hawk soaring overhead added a touch of wild majesty to our exploration. The sense of isolation and raw nature in these untouched Galapagos corners reminded us of the importance of preserving these ecosystems. Our journey continues tomorrow, promising new wonders in this extraordinary archipelago.