Santa Cruz highlands

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Discover the lush green hills, giant tortoises and array of endemic birds in the highlands of Santa Cruz, which also offer some wonderful panoramic views over many of the neighbouring islands.

Visiting the Santa Cruz highlands is a wonderful addition to your holiday if you would like an island-based tour.

You arrive in the Galapagos Islands by air, usually into the airport on the small island of Baltra. Baltra is the neighbouring island to the main and most populated island of the archipelago, Santa Cruz.

As you cross the Itabaca channel, you start to see some of the unique and characteristic vegetation that you will find during much of your Galapagos wildlife cruise.

However, first you will drive through the lush green forests of the highlands hidden by mist, as you descend again to the other side to where most of the yachts and catamarans are moored in the port town of Puerto Ayora.

These fascinating cooler highlands have a microclimate all of their own away from the island coastline with some astonishing geological features formed during past volcanic eruptions.

Stop here for a chance to see the infamous giant tortoises of Galapagos wandering serenely among the grasses of the highlands amid a combination of farms and forest.

Step inside vast volcanic twin crates formed by lava flows and enjoy some spectacular views down to the coast and across to neighbouring islands.

The majority of the islands that make up this fascinating archipelago were formed by volcanic activity, which has created dramatic, and sometimes stark, spectacular landscapes with very little vegetation (apart from a few months with increased rainfall – January-March, when the islands spring into bloom).


However, venture up to the cooler highlands of the main inhabited island, Santa Cruz, and you enter a world of lush green forest rich with birdlife in particular, and also a great place to see the magnificent giant Galápagos tortoises in the wild.

Discover this rich verdant landscape from a beautiful safari-style camp developed in the African tradition, with wonderful private en suite tents hidden amongst the forest.

Here you can sip a sundowner from the panoramic deck and gaze out to the neighbouring islands from this stunning viewpoint. This is a great option for families, especially those with young children as there is also a family suite here right next to the main lodge.

Another new luxury eco lodge also in a highlands location offers an even more comfortable way to enjoy a few days in the highlands. With its own private tortoise reserve on the property, a stunning infinity pool and sweeping views over the island, it makes a delightful secluded romantic escape or a great way to unwind after a wildlife cruise.

It is also very easy to visit the highlands from a base next to the coast in Puerto Ayora, whether it be a delightful and cosy beachfront hotel or a sumptuous private villa, complete with private chef, pool and deck.

Enjoy the clearer skies of the coast and be within easy access of the incredible flora and fauna of the highlands within an hour’s drive.

Find out more about our unique Galapagos holidays >

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‘Greetings. this has turned out to be a paradise in so many ways....so a big thank you from us.

Wonderful support from your company over here....we were met at the airport (with flowers!!!!!) and introduced to our personal guide who is fabulous. Can't get over the attention to detail ....cool flannels, chilled water, fresh juice on arrival, bag full of thoughtful goodies for our trip, wonderful rooms with bathrooms bigger than our bedroom at home(!) and we were upgraded to a suite and as I write we are listening to tropical birdsong as we look out over the lagoon from our balcony. Wow!!!!!

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