El Chato

 – Giant tortoise reserve

– $2 entry, $10 return taxi.

El Chato Tortoise Reserve, Santa Cruz
El Chato Tortoise Reserve, Santa Cruz

The first day, we went to El Chato, the tortoise sanctuary. We shared a taxi with another couple we met and we paid about $10 between us. The taxi driver drove us there, walked around the reserve with us and then drove us back. We also had to pay a couple of dollars when we arrived, as a kind of donation to the park. It also meant that we could help ourselves to tea and coffee in the cafe.  The reserve is about a 20 minute drive away from the town and the whole trip took us about 2 hours.

This was our first sight of the magnificent giant land tortoises. They really were huge and absolutely fascinating. It’s a great place to see them in a natural green area, where they roam around freely, rather than in the tortoise breeding centres. Keep a 2 metre distance though, as, unlike the other wildlife on the islands, they can become a little distressed if you get too close. There is also the chance to climb into an old giant tortoise’s shell, which provides a rather funny photo opportunity. There were few tourists here at El Chato and it was nice and quiet. You could also visit some lava tunnels, which were quite interesting, but nothing fantastic. Go for the giant tortoises though!

Giant tortoise shell at El Chato, Santa Cruz, Galápagos Islands
Giant tortoise shell at El Chato, Santa Cruz, Galápagos Islands

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