The stop at Santa Cruz Island by the Lindblad Expeditions’ National Geographic Endeavour is an unusually full, busy day. Following our tour of the Darwin Research Station and seeing Lonesome George and Diego, the station’s most famous tortoises, we’re given a little over an hour to tour the waterfront of Puerto Ayora, largest city in the Galapagos. With a population of more than 10,000, Puerto Ayora contains about a third of the islands’ total human population.
Leaving the Darwin Research Station, we turn right onto Avenida Charles Darwin, the port city’s main street which ends at a plaza where buses will take us to the highlands for the rest of the day. It soon becomes clear that almost all the businesses along the street are intended for tourists. Although I spot a few hotels, restaurants and dive shops along the route, they are overwhelmed by the surplus of t-shirt shops.
Not necessarily a bad thing since this is the first and our only real opportunity to shop for Galapagos and Ecuadorian souvenirs. One of the first places we encounter is the Galapagos National Park store, which has a huge selection but whose prices are 2-3X as much as the items at the small shop at the Darwin Research Station. Too bad the Darwin Station’s shop isn’t larger; its offerings are fairly limited.
Here’s a photo scrapbook of our Puerto Ayora walk.
Along Avenida Charles Darwin in Puerto Ayora