Jan 02, 2019 - National Geographic Islander
This morning we anchored at sunrise off the bustling town of Puerto Ayora. This is the home of the headquarters of both the Galapagos National Park Service and the Charles Darwin Research Station. We rode in on our fleet of Zodiacs after breakfast to the main town dock, took buses to the end of town, were welcomed by the director Arturo Izureta, and had a special “behind the scene tour” of the museums and collections at CDRS. Next we saw the captive adult tortoises that are part of a breeding program, which has been successful in repatriating endangered tortoises to the islands of their origin. In addition, in the late morning we toured a charming private school, Tomas de Berlanga School, with an open air setting in the lush green highlands. The enthusiastic school kids were our guides.
We were eager for lunch when we reached Rancho Manzanillo after a 15 minute drive further up the green slopes of Santa Cruz Island, and we enjoyed the bountiful buffet! In the pastures around the restaurant, we could see dozens of tortoises of all sizes also enjoying their lunch! They were grazing on the well-cropped grasses, soaking in puddles and we saw/heard two pairs of giant tortoises mating.
Back in town in the afternoon some of us stayed on shore to shop or explore and others came back to our cozy ship for a nap or games and videos. Salome Buglass, a National Geographic Early Career Grantee, gave us an interesting talk about her research on Galapagos Seamounts. After dinner we greatly enjoyed a music and dance show by a local group, EcoArte. It has been another great day in the magical Galapagos Archipelago!
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