The Charles Darwin Research Centre is run by the Charles Darwin Foundation, an international not-for-profit organization set up under the auspices of UNESCO in 1960, following the centenary of the publication of Darwin’s “On the Origin of the Species” (published in 1859). The aim was to contribute to the conservation of the Galápagos Islands. A...more
Following Fabian’s tour we were free for the rest of the morning. Chris and I walked back through the grounds, stopping to look at the various plants – the centre also maintains a native plant garden of species endemic to the Santa Cruz arid and coastal zones. We watched a Cactus Finch at close quarters in one of the Opuntias and then had a brief...more
Puerto Ayora’s fish market is really little more than a few stone counters set by the side of the road in the middle of town, backed by the harbour. The fish can come directly from boat to counter to shopping bag. As a tourist you’re maybe unlikely to be shopping for fish, but just the same, this is a spot worth visiting. The activity here (gutting...more
Charles Darwin Research Station is situated in the outskirts of Puerto Ayora, at the east end of Avenida Charles Darwin. It was established in 1964 and it is the headquarters of the Charles Darwin Foundation. Here more than 100 scientists, students and volunteers are working with research and conservation projects to protect the Galapagos ecosystem...more
Las Grietas is a long fissure in the lava rock. Here freshwater filtered down from the highlands meet salty water entering from the sea, making the water in the ravine brackish. It is a very nice place for swimming and snorkelling. The water is very clear, but can be a bit cold. Some people dive or make somersaults from the high cliffs. When you...more
At Tortuga Bay there is a beautiful long white sandy beach (Playa Brava). There are strong currents in the sea so this beach is not for swimming, but some people are surfing, kayaking and sunbathing. If you want to swim there is a smaller protected beach (Playa Mansa) in the end of Tortuga Bay. At Tortuga Bay you will probably see Marine Iguanas...more
The fish market in Puerto Ayora is situated at Pelican Bay and it is interesting to stop here for a while and watch the fishermen take care of today’s catch while the pelicans surrounds them waiting for left-overs from the fish. I have seen pelicans around fishermen before, but once I was here there was also a sea lion standing next to the young...more
There is a small beach in front of Finch Bay Hotel. This beach is called Punta Estrada Beach and as it is protected in a bay the water is calm and good for swimming. When I passed this beach the first time on my way to Las Grietas I didn’t have any swimwear with me, but I thought I could make a stop the next day to snorkel along the edge of the...more
Turtle bay is a huge swathe of sand some five km off Puerto Ayora. It can be reached only on foot and there is controlled entrance which closes at 18:00h. During the heat of day going there can be an exhausting trek despite the evenly paved pathway. At the entrance to the path water and other fluids are available, so necessary to keep you up and...more
Puerto Ayora, Galapagos Islands, Puerto Ayora, Ecuador
Good for: Business
Barrio Punta Estrada S/N, Puerto Ayora, 00000, Ecuador
Good for: Business
Av. Charles Darwin y Piqueros , Puerto Ayora, Ecuador
Good for: Business
On my last day on Galapagos Islands (2011) I had a late lunch and then there was not enough time left of the afternoon to rent a bike or take another walk to Tortuga Bay, so I decided to find a café where I could sit down and read for a while. Casa de Lago Café Cultural was perfect for that. I only had a coffee and sat comfortably in an armchair...more
A couple of our travelling companions, Sue and Geoff, had already spent a few days in Puerto Ayora prior to the cruise and particularly recommended the coffee at Il Giardino. So after our visit to the Charles Darwin Research Centre, and a walk through the town, we headed here with them and another of our party, Ian, to sample what was on offer....more
Among the restaurants I ate at in Puerto Ayora I liked this one the best. It was busy at lunchtime and people shared tables. Service was good and there seemed to be several regulars there. The first time I ate here was while I waited for the speedboat to Isla Isabela, and I ordered lunch at the counter and also a mango juice (I didn’t think of that...more
Calle de los Kioskos is a part of Charles Binford where there are several small eateries with outside tables in the street in the evening. It was a busy Sunday evening when I ate here, with a mix of tourists (too many) and local families.I had shrimps in coconut sauce with rice to eat and it was $8 (July 2011). The same meal, but with fish instead...more
Garrapata is a restaurant on Avenida Charles Darwin and this is where we had a late lunch on the first day of the cruise, after visiting the highlands and before going to Charles Darwin Research Station. It is a nice outdoor restaurant under a roof, and with a pebbled floor. The vegetarians in the group got a vegetarian dish and I and the other...more
Rincón de Alma is a restaurant with a good location near the park, on Avenida Charles Darwin. Here you can sit at one of the outside tables and watch people go by. I decided to come here for lunch on my last day on Galapagos Islands, as I had seen, when I passed by earlier, that they had a good lunch offer. I came to the restaurant four minutes...more
Before coming to Galapagos I had read that it is good to buy the ticket for the speedboat a day in advance during high season. As I visited in July and was going to be aboard a boat the day before my departure I was a bit worried not to get a ticket, but the travel agent I had booked the cruise with luckily made a reservation for me. The office of...more
If you are going to Las Grietas or one of the hotels on the south side of the harbour you should take a water taxi across the harbour. The taxi boats leave from the new pier and if there isn’t one there when you arrive, one will soon come. As soon as there is one passenger they leave, so you don’t have to wait for other people to fill up the boat....more
The first time I arrived to Baltra was with plane and I was going on a cruise. We (the people going on the cruise) were met at the airport by our guide and, as we were visiting the highlands on Santa Cruz and Charles Darwin Research Station before boarding the boat, we took a bus from the airport to Canal de Itabaca. Frequent ferries are crossing...more
If you want a souvenir of your time in the Galápagos Islands, Puerto Ayora is a pretty good place to search, as it has everything from the really excellent to the truly tacky! The main street, Avenida Charles Darwin, is lined with shops, all of them targeting the tourist (whether staying on town or, like us, stopping off here while on a cruise). We explored quite a few on our morning in town, though our wanderings were slightly hampered by the fact that the western end of Charles Darwin was undergoing major construction work (laying new pipes and/or cables) and was only passable on narrow walkways. We also had to pause at one point as dynamite was being used to clear a new area for work – the Ecuadoreans seem to like dynamite, judging by our experience of road-works on the mainland!
Anyway, we negotiated the holes in the road successfully and checked out many of the shops. T-shirts seemed to be a favourite purchase, many with the same slogan – “I love Boobies” (see photo three). I guess it’s amusing, but not when you see it for the hundredth time! More interesting for us were the couple of rather smart galleries, though I was rather surprised and concerned to note that one appeared to be selling jewellery made from coral beads (if they were only artificial they were charging far too much) so refused to consider buying anything there.
What to buy: We had more success in a nice little shop called Endemik, near the western end of town. One of the favourite Ecuadorean crafts is carving tagua nuts, which give the appearance of ivory, into various native animals, and I bought a lovely pelican for $12 (see photo two). In a nearby gallery, Cactus, we got a small ceramic bowl to take as a gift to friends in Quito, for which we paid $9. We also bought a couple of postcards but I don’t remember the price of those – sorry!
Our shopping done, it was time to return to the Angelito for lunch, so this is my last tip on Puerto Ayora. Please click here to return to my intro page.
It is expensive to buy stamps for postcards on Galapagos Islands (same price as in the rest of Ecuador though). For Europe the stamp for one postcard is $2.25 (July 2011), so make sure to bring a lot of cash to the post office if you have many postcards to mail.And it can take a very long time before the postcards reach their destination. The...more
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One inhabitant we did not see at the Charles Darwin Research Centre was Lonesome George, arguably at one time the most famous tortoise in the world. Sadly he had died a few months before our visit, in June 2012. George was thought to be the sole surviving member of the Pinta subspecies (Chelonoidis abingdonii), and scientists had tried for many years to persuade him to breed, with no success – hence the nickname of Lonesome (although Fabian maintained that his failure to find success with the ladies was down to his own cantankerous nature!) Around the time of our visit however it was reported that scientists have identified at least 17 tortoises that appear to be closely related to George’s subspecies, and that they might even have found one purebred Pinta tortoise. Maybe George was not totally lonesome after all! Meanwhile his pen has been left as it was and a plaque placed beside it in memory of one who undoubtedly did a lot to draw people’s attention to the importance of preserving as much of the wildlife of these special islands (and indeed of the world) as possible.
In town, you see his image everywhere – on t-shirts, postcards and souvenirs, as decoration and graffiti, and more. It will be a long while before George is forgotten, it seems.
Of course, another character who has played a major role in shaping our perceptions of these islands is Charles Darwin, and you will see him around town too! The main street is named after him (Avenida Charles Darwin), as is the research centre, and a bust of the famous naturalist sits on the roundabout at the eastern end of the main street, along with a colourful arch which also depicts some of the archipelago’s most iconic species (see photo four). The inscription below the former describes his work as a natural historian that made him famous worldwide, his journey on the Beagle, and the part played by the Galápagos Islands in shaping his “Theory on the Evolution of the Species”.
From the Research Centre we walked into town where we drawn to the activity around the fish market.