Paul Schicke
Written by Paul Schicke Senior Expedition Designer

Updated: August 21, 2023
Published: December 20, 2017

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The iconic and famous, Galapagos Giant Tortoise

The Galapagos National Park system consists of approximately 95% of the 13 volcanic islands and associated islets that sit west of Ecuador and are home to one of the most evolutionarily significant environments in the world. While visitors flock to the islands for an up-and-close experience of the regions unique wildlife, conservationists work to protect, study and improve the delicate environment. It’s a process that’s vital for the longevity of hundreds of exceptional species and one that’s managed together with the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS). When embarking on a Quasar Expedition cruise of the Galapagos Islands, you’ll have the chance to visit the CDRS on Santa Cruz Island. Here’s a taste of what you can expect.

The Role of the Charles Darwin Research Station

While the Galapagos National Park Service are responsible for providing rangers and guides to oversee and enhance the experience of visitors to the islands, the Charles Darwin Research Station focus their time on conservation. Owned by the Charles Darwin Foundation and with backing from UNESCO, the center was established in 1959 to be a pillar for promoting and protecting sustainability within the Galapagos. Over the years, conversationalists and scientists have worked together to learn more about how to manage the unique flora and fauna of the region and protect it from changes to the social, commercial and political environment.

Rangers and guides of the Charles Darwin Research Station visiting a beach in the Galapagos Islands

What You’ll Experience at the Charles Darwin Research Station

Today, visiting the Charles Darwin Research Station is a great way to gain a real insight into and appreciation of the extensive conservation efforts that a contribute to the sustainability of the Galapagos National Park.

Kids learning from a presentation at the Charles Darwin Research Station about the conservation efforts of the Galapagos Islands

The center is currently focused on running a breeding program to boost the natural population of Galapagos tortoises and iguanas throughout the islands. As such, you’ll be able to see native tortoises in all stages of growth from unhatched eggs to vulnerable babies and fully-grown adults. You’ll also be able to learn about how pirates and colonists preyed on giant tortoises for food and money and hear the sad, but inspiring, story of Lonesome George.

Lonesome George, Galapagos Giant Tortoise
Baby Giant Tortoises, Charles Darwin Research Station
Temperatures for Galapagos Islands

Don’t miss seeing the Galapagos land iguanas as well and learn about the progress the CDRS is making to restore the population of these endangered animals. Then, wander the halls of the Charles Darwin exhibit to inspire your own inner-conservationist so that you can take your learnings and apply them throughout the rest of your Galapagos cruise.

To learn more about the other incredible places you’ll visit on our yacht trips, see our Galapagos cruises.

To keep up with the latest news on the Charles Darwin Research Station or to make a donation to support the work of the Charles Darwin Foundation, visit

Land Iguana, Charles Darwin Research Station

Paul Schicke
By Paul Schicke
Senior Expedition Designer

Hello! My name is Paul. I am a photographer, traveler, teacher and writer. I have extensive experience in travel to Galapagos, Peru, Patagonia and the western seaboard of South America specializing in ways travelers can experience these once-in-a-life destinations like locals on the road. Lover of wine, chocolate, travel, coffee, and helping others plan vacations of a lifetime!

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