Red Mangrove Tortuga Reserve

First Tortoise Reserve in the Galapagos

Ecuador’s leading hospitality company for active adventure, Red Mangrove Galapagos and Ecuador Lodges (www.redmangrove.com), is creating Red Mangrove Tortuga Reserve, the first such reserve in the Galapagos.  According to Hernan Rodas, visionary founder and owner, his company has purchased 20 acres adjacent to the Galapagos National Park, a short drive from the company’s Aventura Lodge on Santa Cruz. Here animals have free and unobstructed movement. While there are a number of tortoise farms dotting the islands, Red Mangrove’s will be the first actual reserve for these giant reptiles.

The Galápagos tortoise is the largest living species of tortoise and 10th-heaviest living reptile, reaching weights of over 800 pounds and lengths of over six feet. Shell size and shape vary between populations. On islands with humid highlands, the tortoises are larger, with domed shells and short necks. On islands with dry lowlands, the tortoises are smaller, with “saddleback” shells and long necks. These differences from one island to the next helped Charles Darwin to develop his theory of evolution.

Tortoise numbers declined from over 250,000 in the 16th century to a low of around 3,000 in the 1970s. The decline was caused by hunting for tortoise meat and oil, habitat clearance for agriculture, and introduction of non-native animals such as rats, goats, and pigs.  Conservation efforts beginning in the 20th century have resulted in thousands of captive-bred juveniles being released onto their home islands, and it is estimated that numbers exceeded 19,000 at the start of the 21st century. Despite this rebound, the species as a whole is classified as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

“We see this as a necessary step for the preservation of the threatened Galapagos giant tortoise,” said Rodas.  He said the reserve is being created from a minimalist, least environmental impact perspective. Only guests visiting Red Mangrove Aventura Lodge may walk the grassy trails on the preserve. Although there will be washroom facilities and a rain shelter, there will be no gift stores.  “This reduced traffic and development will limit any impact on the tortoises and their environment,” said Rodas, underscoring that conservation is the top priority. Red Mangrove Galapagos and Ecuador Lodges seeks to build alliances with local conservation organizations and the national park for the greatest benefit to the species. April or May 2012 is the anticipated completion date of Red Mangrove Tortuga Reserve.

At present the site harbors 30 to 40 giant tortoise, but the total number at any time will depend of how humid it is and how much water is in a small pond that attracts the tortoise.

Red Mangrove Galapagos and Ecuador Lodges in 2007 introduced a land-based alternative to exploring the Galapagos that heretofore was a cruise-only destination. While it may be best known for its upscale lodging and dive operations in the Galapagos, recent expansion has made it a leader in mainland Ecuador hospitality as well. With upscale waterfront lodges strategically situated on Santa Cruz, Isabela and Floreana, it is the only company offering high quality, branded accommodations and services on multiple islands in the Galapagos and across mainland Ecuador. Because it is land-based, Red Mangrove can offer a more extensive roster of activities and more flexibility than traditional cruise options.

The customary way to experience Red Mangrove’s Galapagos hospitality is to spend a number of nights on each island accessed by small boat and/or aircraft. With 14 guest rooms, Aventura Lodge on Santa Cruz is distinguished by its architectural design which blends its mangrove forest and seafront environments tastefully and responsibly. Separated from the ocean by a white sand, palm-lined beach, Isabela Lodge offers eight rooms outside the fisherman’s village of Puerto Villamil on one of the most volcanically active islands on Earth. Red Mangrove Floreana Lodge is a gathering of 10 private pine cottages just a five minute walk from the village of Puerto Velasco Ibarra (population 150).

Santa Cruz Island’s name means “Holy Cross” in Spanish.  It has an area of 381 square miles and a maximum altitude 2834 feet. Santa Cruz hosts the largest human population in the Galapagos archipelago, primarily within the town of Puerto Ayora, the location of the Charles Darwin Research Station and the headquarters of the Galápagos National Park Service. The GNPS and CDRS operate a tortoise breeding center here, where young tortoises are hatched, reared, and prepared to be reintroduced to their natural habitat. The Highlands of Santa Cruz offer exuberant flora, and are famous for the lava tunnels. Large tortoise populations are found here. Black Turtle Cove is a site surrounded by mangroves, which sea turtles, rays and small sharks sometimes use as a mating area. Cerro Dragón, known for its flamingo lagoon, is also located here, and along the trail one may see land iguanas foraging.

Red Mangrove Divers Lodge Santa Cruz has 11 rooms near the Red Mangrove Dive Academy. Red Mangrove Isabela Divers Lodge features 5-rooms adjacent to scenic Puerto Villamil. On the mainland coast of Ecuador Samai Lodge with 11 rooms is an inn-and-spa suited for recollection, relaxation and wellness surrounded by the sounds of the jungle and crashing surf. The company recently announced an extensive dive program embracing novices to experts with over 45 dive sites and multi-island dive packages for varying length vacations and interests.

To learn more about the Red Mangrove resort and the tortoise reserve, visit them online at www.redmangrove.com

  • Young

    Hallo, ich war vom 31.10. bis 7.11.2011 mit der M/S Santa Cruz auf den Galapagos Inseln. Jetzt suche ich die Bilder/Fotos, die vom Team gemacht wodren sind. Wo finde ich diese im Internet.Viele Grfcdfe und vielen DankJfcrgen Scholz

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