Repatriation of Galapagos Tortoises: An Unexpected Find in Peru

The repatriation of Galapagos tortoises was a hot topic for the media last week when a total of 29 turtles (all of them endemic to the Galapagos and in danger of extinction) were discovered in Peru.

Before delving in, one must consider the fact that the enchanted isles have a magic and value to them that’s often equated with words such as: rare, incomparable, raw, and priceless. If you visit the Islands, take a look at the Galapagos BIG 15 you must see in your journey. So novel are the sights and sounds throughout the archipelago that we’re sometimes compelled to want to take a piece of them with us; if only as a souvenir or, at worst – as an object to sell. No matter the size or near-intangibility of the object (yes, we’re talking about grains of sand here), the Galapagos National Park fully forbids visitors to remove any and all objects that form a part of the archipelago, living or non-living. This somewhat universal desire to take things with us has, in recent years, led to some rather amusing tales of sneaky individuals and their somewhat peculiar methods of smuggling things out of the islands – specifically living ones, unfortunately. See the case of the Mexican who tried to take eleven endangered iguanas in his luggage or the German who tried to take four iguanas back home.

As of late, however, a rather unexpected mystery of smuggling things from the Galapagos popped up in the not-so-faraway country of Peru.

Repatriation of Galapagos Tortoises: Peru Semi-Accidentally Strikes Gold

It was Peru’s National Park Service (SERFOR) that found the box containing the smuggled turtles, which had all been wrapped and taped together. The box itself was on a bus bound from Tumbes (in the North) to Lima (in central Peru). In total, they managed to rescue 27, as two of them were found already dead in the box. The driver and the transportation company are currently under investigation.

Repatriation Of Galapagos Tortoises
Galapagos Tortoises Are A Huge Tourist Attraction For Ecuador But Also A Target For Wildlife Traffickers.

At the moment, a group of experts and park rangers from the Galapagos are on their way to Peru to collect information and coordinate legal action (in conjunction with SERFOR and the authorities) to help repatriate the tortoises. The Galapagos National Park stated that the species nor the sex of the tortoises can be identified until genetic tests are done. Only then will they be able to tell what island the tortoises were taken from and begin the repatriation of Galapagos tortoises back to Ecuador.

See the Galapagos Giant Tortoises!

The discovery, on behalf of Peru’s SERFOR, was the result of an ongoing investigation of an alleged international mafia that had been dedicating itself to the trafficking of a number of endemic creatures from South America. The destination for the animals in this trafficking ring is a black-market in Europe.

Repatriation Of Galapagos Tortoises
Giant Tortoise From Southern Isabela Island

In even better news, 190 juvenile giant tortoises that were bred in captivity have recently been released back into their home island of Santa Fe in the Galapagos. This is part of an ongoing project to help restore the native species of specific islands throughout the archipelago. Santa Fe Island is frequented by Yacht Isabela II during our Central Galapagos Itinerary that goes from Mondays to Fridays, and will surely give you a chance to see these newly released tortoises.

Updated:May 8, 2023

Published:April 25, 2017


Machu Picchu & Galapagos Islands Tour 2024 Package: 12 days / Quito, Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu / From USD 9,598 per person



El Angel Ecological Reserve Ecuador

El Angel Ecological Reserve

El Angel Ecological Reserve is worth visiting if you want an authentic taste of the Ecuadorian Andes. Get ready to take some amazing photos!


Condé Nast Traveler ONLINE

This small, secret rooftop of the restored Casa Gangotena mansion peers over Plaza San Francisco in the center of Quito’s colonial Old Town, the world’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Order a Cedrón Spritz, a refreshing mix of rum, lemon, sparkling wine, and fresh lemon verbena (cedrón) syrup and leaf, then revel in the mesmerizing, real-time montage of daily life in Ecuador’s capital as it parades past.

National Geographic Traveller

A Font of information, Klaus has spent decades in the field, leading tours in the Amazon, Andes and Galapagos Islands. He hung up his guiding boots a few years back and now creates itineraries for the tour operator, Metropolitan Touring. Adrift in the Pacific Ocean, hundreds of miles from mainland South America, Galapagos is one of the most biodiverse locales on Earth.

Cruise Critic

Santa Cruz II is a replacement for the much-loved Santa Cruz, which plied the waters of the Galapagos for 36 years. It is not a new ship; it was built in 2002 and sailed as Mare Australis under the Australis cruise brand, operating expedition cruises around Cape Horn and to Antarctica. Metropolitan Touring bought the ship in 2015 and completely refurbished it, launching it as Santa Cruz II in October 2015.

Telegraph Ultra Travel: 50 Greatest Hotels in the World

When this modern, minimalist, glass-walled jungle lodge opened in 2012, it changed the accommodation game in South America. Arquitect Alfredo Ribadeneira’s “protective cocoon” would impress in a modern city; in the depths of an Andean cloudforest, it is wild, audacious and beautiful. Though only 70 miles from Quito, Maspi Lodge sits in splendid isolation, perched on a cliff at the end of an unsealed road.

Terms and Conditions

Itinerario de 5 días / 4 noches: Basado en la tarifa regular (4214 USD + impuestos por persona)
Itinerario de 7 días / 6 noches: Basado en la tarifa regular (5672 USD + impuestos por persona)
No reembolsable. Aplica únicamente para residentes ecuatorianos en nuevas reservas directas realizadas, hasta el 30 de junio del 2022, con un ejecutivo de ventas del hotel. Válido para estadías hasta el 31 de agosto de 2022. No puede ser combinada con otros descuentos, promociones u ofertas. El descuento no aplica para otros servicios. El precio no incluye recargo de combustible de $20 por noche de crucero.

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