How to See the Huge Tortoises on the Galápagos Islands

The tortoises on the Galápagos Islands are HUGE.

There are animals everywhere you look on the Galápagos Islands.

The place where I went to see the tortoises on the Galápagos Islands is called Reserva El Chato Rancho Primicias. On Google Maps, it’s called Rancho Primicias – Giant Tortoise Reserve. They also have a lava tunnel which was pretty neat.

How to Get to Rancho Primicias from Puerto Ayora to See the Tortoises on the Galápagos Islands

I went with a few of the other ESL teachers that I worked with on Santa Cruz Island.

From Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz there is a bus that goes to multiple locations. The one to Santa Rosa leaves every 20 minutes. A few of us Workawayers woke up early and grabbed a snack then waited at the bus stop.

The bus from Puerto Ayora to Santa Rosa was only USD 1 and was about 20 minutes. One of the perks is that Ecuador and the Galápagos use the USD so there’s no conversion.

From the bus stop in Santa Rosa, we rode our bikes to the entrance of the ranch which was a little less than 10 minutes.

How to Spend Your Time With the Tortoises on the Galápagos Islands

When you first arrived at the ranch, the dirt road is long and bumpy.

After riding for about ten minutes, you then have to pay USD 5 (but you can see some horses and more tortoises) to then ride a few minutes more and end up at the entrance to the lava tunnel.

The entrance to the lava tunnel is to the left.

The tunnel was really cool inside. There were lights everywhere. Surrounding some of the lights were plants. This was really cool to see.

It was about a 20-minute walk inside of the tunnel.

Walking through the ranch, you can see horses, cows, tortoises, and other small creatures.

The walk to where the restaurant is and the tour was about 25 minutes from the lava tunnel exit.

The tour took about 45 minutes and we got to eat some guanana (guava in English).

The tour was free but of course, giving a tip is always suggested. Between the three of us, we gave the dude USD 5.

Interesting Information About the Tortoises on the Galápagos Islands

There are about 60,000 tortoises on all of the Galápagos Islands, 4,000 being on Santa Cruz. There are also two species on this island. I’m not sure what they are though.

Rancho Primicias was created in 1959 to protect the wildlife and the tortoises on the Galápagos Islands.

rancho primicias

Thanks to Charles Darwin, the tortoises on the Galápagos Islands are well-studied.

He took some of the tortoises to Australia to be studied some more.

Apparently, tortoises on the Galápagos Islands can last up to a year without any food, which is pretty amazing. However, they are colorblind and can’t see well but their hearing is good and they feel vibration so that’s probably why they hide in their shells when you get close. (Not too close though- you have to stay 6 feet/2 meters away from them at all times).

There are a few small lakes on the ranch and interestingly enough, they were created by the tortoises.

Making the Way Back to Puerto Ayora from Santa Rosa

The three of us ate lunch on the side of the road and walked back to the cave.

Leaving the ranch, the sun was burning and it was all uphill so we had to walk and bike on and off.

Riding our bikes to Bellavista took about an hour. The wind and the hilly road made it relaxing and cooling.

Bellavista holds the other Galápagos Language Academy so it was a short ride back to Puerto Ayora.

tortoises on the galapagos islands

There are even more tortoises along the road which I loved to see.

The tortoises on the Galápagos Islands have great lives. It makes my heart happy that the people are so respecting and caring towards all of the wildlife.

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