The Highlands of Santa Cruz are very different from Puerto Ayaro at sea level. Lush all year long and potentially rainy in the dry season, be prepared for anything! We caught a sunny day. There is a standard route to go on the highlands from Los Gemelos to El Chato and Playa el Garrapatero. You can go with an organized tour or hail your on taxi for the day, no public transportation runs to these destinations. Just negotiate the price first, $80 is standard. It may seem like a lot but you have the service for the entire day, it is much cheaper than many of the day tours. Our driver hooked us up with fresh fruit, water bottles, and pastries from a bakery.
Translating to ‘the twins’, Los Gemelos is a set of massive sinkholes in the Santa Cruz highlands.
They weren’t caused by a volcanic eruption, but collapse of magma chambers. A mile long looping trail takes you around the two geological wonders and through the Scalesia forest. The first sinkhole is right beside the parking lot.
It’s hard to get a picture of the magnitude of the size of this crater – it’s very impressive. Continue on through the forest filled with flitting birds. Scalesia are endemic to the Galapagos and can grow up to 50 feet tall, usually covered in moss.
Cross the street and find the second crater, just as notable as the first.
The trail that is shown on the map has been altered, but the path to take is still obvious. It heads into the woods and the path becomes a bit rockier – good footwear is recommended. In these woods it is likely to view the many finches, but more exciting for me the endemic Galapagos Flycatcher.
Geologists, botanists, and bird lovers will enjoy this path, relatively quiet so long as you do not run into any tour groups. We did not and had most of the path entirely to ourselves.