Tortoises of the Galapagos on Santa Cruz - the highlands
Home to the most populous settlement in the islands as well as the Charles Darwin research centre and the headquarters of the Galapagos National Park Service, Santa Cruz is the main hub of scientific and cultural events in the Galapagos.
Galapagos Islands travel visitor sites - Santa Cruz highlands
As there is so much to see and do here, Santa Cruz is a favourite with tourists who come to walk along the enormous lava tunnel, view the unique marine life in the coves and bays and see the magnificent Galapagos giant tortoises close up.
A great way to get to know the island and its habitat is to spend a day hiking in its interior. The trail begins at Bellavista, 7km from the town of Puerto Ayora, the largest settlement in the Galapagos.
From Bellavista the route takes you to the higher parts of the island known as Media Luna, Puntudo and Mount Croker. As you travel through the highlands, you might spot vermillion flycatchers, short eared owls and woodpeckers, in fact, almost every bird known to exist in the Galapagos has been spotted on Santa Cruz.
Depending on the distanced hiked, the circular route back to Bellavista is around 10-18km and should take between four and eight hours (of course you can take a taxi, white pickup truck to the main sites). And though it’s not required, your trip will be enhanced by employing a guide to lead the trek.
Another highlight of a stop in Santa Cruz is a visit to Black Turtle Cove. The extensive mangrove lagoon is kept as a reserve for marine turtles and as it’s accessible only by sea as part of a Galapagos cruise, is a grea
t place to spot them.
Whether you want to discover the hidden interior of this fascinating island or explore the natural habitat of the magnificent Galapagos tortoises, a trip to Santa Cruz has everything that you’re looking for and more, and is sure to leave you with great memories of some fantastic experiences.