It is located on the center of the archipelago, the reason why it is the biggest human settlement, with a population of about 18 thousand people. This island is the most developed in terms of human population that started when one man was abandoned and survived in an old scientific settlement as the Course of the Tortoise tells. The highlands of Santa Cruz are one of the biggest green areas of the archipelago; therefore agricultural activities started on the early 40s and grew rapidly from there. The Charles Darwin Research Station was developed in town on 1959 and has allowed scientific research and conservation projects progress. In between the facilities there is the tortoise breeding center which objective is to rebuild an almost extinct population in Española island where only six individuals where remaining. Today, these efforts have restored the population to over one thousand individuals. Also named Indefatigable after the military British vessel,
The largest accessible lava tunnels. Underneath the ground hundreds of lava tunnels have been formed by different temperature kinds of lava flow. Some of these tubes are several kilometers long and even though most have collapsed with time and erosion, a couple of them are still there to be visited. They offer the visitor the chance to understand why the stories of pirates and treasures are related to these geological formations.
The biggest tortoises in accessible visitor site. The highlands of Santa Cruz have a big wild population of Tortoises, they walk freely around the private and National Park lands. In our visit to this area, one can notice the difference in size from these animals to others in other visiting sites. There are 15 subspecies of land tortoises in the Galapagos, 4 from which are extinct. They present two different tortoise shell shapes, the Saddleback and the Dome shape. Santa Cruz has tree tortoise subspecies that show both kinds of shells and allow visitors to notice the difference and once understand the evolutionary process that shaped them into this giant prehistoric like animals.
This island has six vegetation zones, each one very different to the others. The contrast of the arid or littoral zone located on the base of the island just a few meters from the ocean, and the scalesia and miconia zones, only to be found in San Cristobal and in this island at about 700 meters above sea level, is portrayed by the landscape and the ecosystems. One of the rarest bush forests stands in the center of the island, spread on top of the Twin Craters.
This island also has some of the largest mangrove areas, a very important ecosystem for all marine life and many terrestrial species. These zones are the nursery of most marine fish and shark.
Tortoises, lava tunnels, white-sand beaches and a picturesque modern town bring lift to one of Galapagos greenest, most tropical islands.