Alan and I had a truly wonderful experience in Ecuador. Santiago and the rest of staff were excellent hosts, as was the La Pinta and its staff. We had an amazing trip.
THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING!! The trip was outstanding; all the arrangements were perfect – from the time we were met at the airport in Quito – to the time we were returned to the airport in Guayaquil.
The luxury Cruises like lapinta, Isabela, and santa cruz cruise are ultimate luxurious ships. these cruises will make your journey a pleasant one.
Hannah, we are back from our fabulous vacation, and I am so very thankful to you for setting it all up. Please provide me with your supervisor's name and email address so I can give you proper credit! Dilger couple, Custom Galapagos Land Based, March 2012

Fundación Scalecia Galapagos

Think Globally, Educate Locally.

The children of the world are the hope for its future. We believe in education as one of the principal tools to ensure sustainability in the long term. The Scalesia Foundation is the only non-governmental institution that is investing 100% of its efforts in EDUCATION on the Islands.

Latin Excursions is an important contributor of Fundación Scalecia please visit our foundation's friends page

Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz Island

Alternative Name: Indefatigable Island
Total Land Area: 986 km²
Highlights: Lonesome George, Giant Tortoises, Charles Darwin Research Center

Santa Cruz is the second largest island in the Galapagos and something of a hub for the archipelago. The small town of Puerto Ayora in the southwest of this large, round volcanic island is the economic center of the Islands, with the largest population of the four inhabited islands (approx. 10,000). Tourism—including refurbishing and resupplying yachts—along with fishing and boat-building, are major sources of commerce.

Puerto Puerto Ayora is home to both the Galapagos National Park and Charles Darwin Research Station, the center of the great restorative efforts taking place in the park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here we go ashore to visit the Giant Tortoise Breeding and Rearing Program run by the research station, which began by rescuing the remaining 16 tortoises on the island of Española in the 1970s. This program has restored the population of animals there to over 1,000 today. You will see many of these animals, with their sweet ET necks and faces, from hatchlings to juveniles to large, distinguished individuals like Lonesome George, the last of his particular race of tortoise. He may be 150 years old! The local color of this port makes for an attractive stop-off, with restaurants, souvenir shops and even an internet café.

A highlight of any trip is a visit to the Santa Cruz Highlands, where the sparse, dry coastal vegetation transitions to lush wet fields and forests overgrown with moss and lichens. Our destination is the Tortoise Reserve, where we will have the chance to track and view these friendly ancient creatures in their natural setting. This extends to the adjacent pasturelands, where farmers have given tortoises safe quarter in exchange for allowing paying visitors to see them. The best times to see tortoises here is during the cool dry season from June through December. Another attraction close by is a large lava tube. A wooden stairway descends to the mouth of its arched entrance and continues underground to the narrow passage that marks its exit.

Black Turtle Cove, on the north shore of Santa Cruz, is a living illustration of how mangroves alter the marine environment to create a rich and unique habitat. Three species of mangrove crowd from the shore out into the lagoon, which reaches almost a mile inland. As we drift though the quite waters in our panga, we are likely to see spotted eagle rays and diamond shaped mustard rays, which swim in a diamond formation. White-tipped reef sharks slip beneath the boat and Pacific green sea turtles come to the surface for air and to mate. Waterfowl, including pelicans, herons and egret, all feed in the cove. This is a peaceful place that will leave you feeling that way.

Further west is Las Bachas, a sandy white-coral beach that is a major egg-laying site for sea turtles. Bachas are notches, and the beach’s name refers to the indentations left in the sand by both laying turtles and their departing hatchlings. On the shore, there are marine iguanas and in the lagoon, flamingos are commonly seen. A newer visitor’s site, Cerro Dragon (Dragon Hill) is a brackish water lagoon that attracts flamingos, common stilts, pintail ducks and other species of birds. There is a short walk up a small hill, which rewards hikers with a nesting site for iguanas and a great view!