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El Chato Reserve - Hiking Puerto Ayora - Ecuador

Located in the green, hilly highlands of Santa Cruz Island, the EL Chato Reserve is one of the best places in the islands to see the giant tortoises in their natural habitat. The reserve is free and open to the public, but a guide is highly recommended, as in recent years some visitors have gotten lost, and one died before he could be found.
The tortoises are easy to spot, lumbering around eating grass and leaves and wallowing in the small pools that are common in the reserve. You may also spot some highland birds, like cattle egrets, mockingbirds, finches or flycatchers.
There is a trail through the reserve, leaving from the little town of Santa Rosa. From the “caseta” or little house where it begins, figure on about a three or three and a half hour hike round trip. It’s possible to hire horses and guides in Santa Rosa.
There are several lava tunnels in the reserve, a couple of which are open to the public. Look for owls near the entrance. There is also a small lagoon covered in red algae.
In addition to the El Chato reserve, there are a couple of private farms in the highlands where visitors can see the tortoises. That’s another reason to go with a guide, as they’ll tend to know where the tortoises are at any given moment.
Trail difficulty: 5/5. It’s long and tends to get muddy. Watch your step!
Highly Probable to see:
Galapagos Tortoise
Cattle Egret

Probable to See:
Galapagos flycatcher
Yellow Warbler

Possible to see:
Galapagos Rail
Short-eared Owl
Paint-billed Crake
Barn Owl
Vermilion flycatcher
Pintail Duck


Galápagos Island Visitor Sites, Puerto Ayora, Ecuador

Hiking Types:
Nature reserve

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Here are other activities in and around Puerto Ayora that may be of interest: Academy Bay Boat Tour, La Playa de los Alemanes, Las Grietas, Cerro Crocker and Lava Tunnels.

09 Sep 2010

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