“The natural history of these islands is eminently curious, and well deserves attention.” Quote from Charles Darwin on the photo to the left below (1845).
Smart guy that Charles, as most who have ventured to the Galapagos Islands since his initial discovery in 1835 – just one stop on his five year voyage on warship H.M.S. Beagle – tend to agree with him.
He did also say something about marine iguanas being ugly… hey, give the little guys a break.
The Charles Darwin Research Center on Puerto Ayora (short 10 minute walk from main area) is more a destination than just a small (yet very popular) museum.
In addition to the museum you will find: Playa de la Estación, Casa de Sombra (Shade House), Center for Land Tortoises and the Land Iguana Restoration Ecology Program. Plan a half-day at minimum for your visit.
As you pass through the guarded gate entrance (no taxis allowed, you walk 10 minutes or so to get to where the actual attractions are) you first will see Playa de la Estación to your right; a lovely small, private waterfront area with sandy beach to enjoy.
You keep walking straight on the road and first pass the shade house on your left (see photos below), then come to the small museum at the research center. Out the back is the pathway through the Land Tortoise sanctuary (previous home of Lonesome George), behind that the Land Iguana Restoration enclosure with a few fiesty, burnt-orange colored characters on display.
There is a lot of information in the one room museum on environmental issues affecting the islands and its precious inhabitants; it’s well worth the visit in and of itself, but don’t miss some of these other attractions when you go. More information is here: Charles Darwin Foundation.
The shade house contains various plant specimens, of course, and is a pleasure to walk through. Darwin had an interest in the survival (and processes) of plants as well as animal species.
One topic of his botanical work was “the stuggle for existence in the vegetable kingdom with respect to the phythochrome-mediated shade avoidance response“.
Source: From Charles Darwin’s botanical country-house studies to modern plant biology
More Galapagos Islands Articles:
Galapagos Islands Lizards & Iguanas
Playa de la Estacion on Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island
Center for Land Tortoises at Charles Darwin Research Center on Puerto Ayora
Hiking on San Cristobal Island, Galapagos
Las Grietas Lagoon on Santa Cruz Island