- Parks and Gardens, Sightseeing Type
- 1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
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A must-see attraction for budding scientists, this exulted site features an active breeding center and informative displays explaining the archipelago's unique ecology and history. Operated by the Charles Darwin Foundation, the center strives to preserve the diversity of the Galápagos Islands through continual conservation research and practices with over a hundred educators, research assistants and volunteers. As you follow the paths, you can catch sight of numerous Galapagos giant tortoises. (Sadly, however, you won't spot Lonesome George, the sole survivor of the Pinta Island giant tortoise subspecies, who passed away in 2012.) Once you've gotten up close and personal with these fascinating creatures, head inside the museum to watch an informational video about the center's mission and conservation efforts.
Travelers rave about the newly renovated facility, adding that exploring the exhibits, installations and tortoise areas should be an essential part of any first-time visitor's itinerary. But if you're most interested in seeing the region's giant tortoises, some caution that you should head elsewhere; the property has fewer tortoises that do not roam freely like they do at sites like Rancho Primicias and El Chato Tortoise Reserve.
You'll find the research station located within a mile of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. From Puerto Ayora, walk or take a taxi east on Charles Darwin Avenue until you reach the property. Visitors are welcome every day from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., though the facility closes daily for lunch between 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. Access to the attraction's exhibits, restrooms, gift shop and cafe is free, but the center welcomes donations to help fund its science projects. For additional information, consult the Charles Darwin Foundation's website.
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