El Chato Reserve is nestled in the rolling, lush hills of the Santa Cruz highlands, just south of the small town of Santa Rosa. The reserve fills the Southwest corner of the island and is divided into two parts- La Caseta and Cerro Chato.
The La Caseta section is sometimes closed when rangers are working in the area. When open, the trail leads to pools where tortoises relax and cool themselves in the water. The Cerro Chato trail is shared with tortoises and ends at a scenic outlook over the island and the horizon at sea.
For birdwatchers- the area is home to Galapagos rails, vermilion flycatchers, yellow warblers, white-cheeked pintails, short-eared owls, and white-cheeked pintails.
Elsewhere on the reserve are expansive lava tubes where you can explore below the ground in lighted tunnels. Some of the larger tunnels require a descent by ladder but are well worth the trouble for their insight into the creation of the island.
El Chato is often included in day tours of the highlands that also visit Los Gemelos and private coffee and butterfly farms in the area. El Chato doesn’t require a guide, but having one along adds new pieces to the puzzle when grasping at the complexity of the natural world of the Galapagos.
For more information about your options for land-based and cruise trips through the Galapagos Islands, contact a member of our team using our toll-free numbers or the contact form on this site.