El Chato Giant Tortoise Reserve, Galapagos

A famous place to see Giant Tortoises in the wild

El Chato Giant Tortoise Reserve, Galapagos
  • Fauna abundance

  • Striking vistas

  • Difficulty


The inland areas of Santa Cruz provide fantastic opportunities to get close to wild Galapagos giant tortoises. These wonderful creatures can be seen roaming around in the agricultural fields, and also in the famous El Chato Tortoise Reserve, where the native vegetation is preserved.

The trail to the Reserve begins at Santa Rosa, about an hour's drive from Puerto Ayora, and during the dry season this is a haven for Giant Tortoises as they migrate from coastal to highland areas, and you can observe the natural behaviours of these truly wild animals.

There is a pond at El Chato that is often surrounded by tortoises, and sometimes even filled with them as they enjoy wallowing in the cool water. Surrounding the ponds are hundreds of acres of natural highland pasture and native Scalesia forest where you may encounter owls, Darwin’s finches, Vermilion Flycatchers, and Galapagos Rails.

For many Galapatours guests the highlight of their trip is following our expert guide into the ancient forest and then hearing heavy footsteps and crunching noises ahead, finally rounding a corner to see a truly wild Galapagos Giant tortoise doing what they have done for millennia before humans came to Galapagos.

Photos of El Chato Giant Tortoise Reserve

Highlights at El Chato Giant Tortoise Reserve

  • See these gentle giants in their native habitat
  • Wonderful encounters with many bird species

Possible Activities


Map of El Chato Giant Tortoise Reserve

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Our cruises that include El Chato Giant Tortoise Reserve