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Cerro Dragon on Santa Cruz Island: A Testament to Conservation Efforts in Galapagos

By November 15, 2017Galapagos
cerro dragon on santa cruz island
Cerro Dragon on Santa Cruz Island is a beautiful visitor site that can be explored on Yacht La Pinta’s Western Islands itinerary. The island itself offers a great location to experience sunsets and is also a remarkable testament to one of the many conservation efforts that the Galapagos National Park has implemented throughout the archipelago in order to help combat the presence of invasive species.

cerro dragon on santa cruz islandA Brief History of Cerro Dragon on Santa Cruz Island: A Shining Emblem of Conservation Efforts in Galapagos

Among the most visible and perhaps iconic of inhabitants of Cerro Dragon are the Galapagos land iguanas (a member of our BIG15 group of iconic species). But this wasn’t always the case a few decades ago, back when there was the presence of invasive species – mainly cats and dogs – that managed to make their way up to the northwestern part of the island. Consequently, the local land iguana population was decimated by the presence of these invasive creatures. Not to mention, the land iguanas here became partly more fearful of any foreign body that entered its territory, and that included us humans. As such, Cerro Dragon on Santa Cruz Island is a relatively “new” visitor site that was opened back in the 90’s to the public, at which point the conservation efforts of the Galapagos National Park had just started to pay off. Nowadays, Cerro Dragon is once again a true nesting site of the Galapagos land iguana with a high recruitment rate. Another bit of great news? The land iguanas are once again just as fearless as they were before, meaning humans can get within inches of them to take beautiful photos without disturbing them at all.
land iguana at cerro dragon on santa cruz island

Cerro Dragon is the Galapagos National Park’s way of showcasing the ongoing conservation efforts throughout the archipelago. In a sense, it’s a way of giving guests the one and only “behind the scenes” look of conservation efforts throughout the archipelago. Any site that has ongoing conservation efforts typically isn’t open to visitors. Cerro Dragon is both a conservation and a visitor site..

Fun Fact: If you’re super lucky you’ll be able to spot one of the numbered land iguanas from the conservation project that started all the way back in the 70’s!

Cerro Dragon on Santa Cruz Island: A Stroll throughout a Gorgeous Visitor Site

dry landing cerron dragon on santa cruz islandA dry landing atop a rocky, black lava shore introduces guests to the visitor site of Cerro Dragon on Santa Cruz Island. Off to the side, guests get to see the iconic tuff cones looming along the surrounding horizon. After the black lava shore, guests walk onto a sandy shore and then begin their journey inland, which consists of a rocky trail. As they head to the nearby brackish lagoon, guests will get to enjoy an interesting prickly pear cactus (something you can rarely do in the tropics!) along the way. Once at the lagoon, there’s a number of species wading around: stilts, sandpipers, sanderlings, pintail ducks and the famous Galapagos flamingos. lagoon at cerro dragon on santa cruz islandAfter the lagoon, guests can walk up the unmissable volcanic “tuff cone” and walk along the rim, which offers majestic views of the Western Islands of the Galapagos, including Guy Fawkes Island! Don’t miss out on this beautiful island that serves as an emblem for conservation efforts and is a beautiful place to visit! sunset at cerro dragon on santa cruz islandAll photos courtesy of: Pancho Dousdebes
Christopher Klassen

About Christopher Klassen

With parents that worked for the U.S. Foreign Service up until he graduated from high school, Chris was raised to have the heart of a nomad throughout his life. He has resided in Honduras, Guatemala, Colombia, Panama and Ecuador throughout his years, and just recently spent the past four up in Canada finishing his Bachelor's Degree in Philosophy & English at the University of British Columbia.