Darwin Station and Tortoise Centre

The Charles Darwin Research Station lies just a short walk east of Puerto Ayora. Right next door is the Fausto Llerena Tortoise Centre. The Darwin Station and Tortoise Centre can be combined into one easy, independent, and free trip. If you’re looking to cool off afterwards, you can take a dip at nearby Playa de la Estacion.


Visiting the Darwin Station and Tortoise Centre


We were disappointed to find the Charles Darwin Research Station was closed for renovations during our visit. When it reopens, its opening hours will be the same as the Tortoise Centre next door: Monday- Friday 7am-noon and 1-4pm.


The research station offers informative displays about the ecology of the Galapagos. The displays show visitors the islands’ volcanic origins and how the landscape was formed. There is also information on the array of wildlife that are found on the islands. This includes the iconic species such as giant tortoises and blue-footed boobies, as well as lesser known species. The station also explains how loss of habitat and invasive species are threatening the wildlife, and the conservation efforts being made.


The research station also provides information on on Charles Darwin’s famous expeditions to the Galapagos. Displays outline how encountering the animals here led him to develop his theory of evolution years later.

Some people argue that seeing giant tortoises in the wild is the only way to see them. But I loved our trip to the Fausto Llerena Tortoise Centre! We visited on our second day on Santa Cruz and it was our first time seeing the famous tortoises. These huge, lumbering beasts are incredible to watch. The centre is also home to brightly coloured iguanas.


If you do want to see these massive beasts in the wild, take a taxi to the Tortoise Ranches. Or, visit the Wall of Tears hike on Isla Isabela.


Both the Darwin Station and Tortoise Centre are free to enter.


Giant tortoise eating grass- Darwin station and tortoise centre

A giant tortoise munching grass


Looking for more independent activities on Santa Cruz? Click here.

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