El Progreso is only 6 km inland from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. At an elevation of just over 300m, the climate and vegetation are completely different. While the shore is hot and arid, little more than rocks and cactus in the dry season, the highlands are green and lush with year-round rain and abundant fresh water.
El Progreso, with a population of around 500, is the longest surviving community on the islands. It was, at one time a penal colony and later the center of a sugar cane plantation, under the direction of the infamous Manuel Cobos, ultimately murdered by his “employees” (slaves). The ruins of the house and mill are one of the more significant sites of historic interest on the Island.
El Progreso is surrounded by small, privately owned farms. Whereas in many countries, the population heads to the beach on weekends, here on San Cristóbal, everyone heads for the highlands. After making the trip yourself, you will understand why
The Tarzan House, in Progreso, is a popular spot with adults and children alike. Built in, reputedly, the world’s largest ceibo tree. You can stay the night in the branches. There is also a room excavated into the roots. There is an entry charge of a couple of dollars and it makes an entertaining and refreshing break during a Highlands tour.
Lagoon El Junco (Crater Lake)
9km beyond El Progreso, at 700m elevation, is Lagoon El Junco. El Junco is the only freshwater lake of significant size in the archipelago and is the source of water for the population of San Cristóbal.
The lagoon, in the crater of a long extinct volcano, is about 270m wide and the depth varies from 1 to 6 m depending on the rains. It iss worth a visit for the panoramic vistas as much as for the lagoon itself.
Galapaguera Cerro Colorado
The Galapaguera is a tortoise breeding centre, 21km from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, on the same road as El Junco.
It is also called Galapaguera Semi-Natural because it provides a natural but protected environment for adult tortoises as well as hatching and growing pens for the juveniles.
Feeding time at the Galapaguera is around 9:00AM, 3 times a week.
Just 2km beyond the Galapaguera is the beach of Puerto Chino. The road stops just a few hundred yards short of the beach itself and the journey is completed on foot.
Puerto Chino is a deep and wide white sandy beach, with good, sometimes excellent, surfing. It is especially good for novices as the bottom is sandy rather than rocky.