May 30, 2019 - National Geographic Endeavour II
Today was tortoise day in the Galapagos! We woke up anchored in Academy Bay, at the south of Santa Cruz. This island hosts the largest human settlement in Galapagos, but also gives us the best opportunity to spot the biggest giant tortoises in the wild!
Our first stop was the Charles Darwin Research Station, an institution that has been here for 60 years working to preserve these unique ecosystems. Their most significant project has been the breeding program for the iconic giant tortoises, so our naturalists took us for a tour to see this process, starting with the babies that hatched this year! After this visit, our guests enjoyed some free time in the town of Puerto Ayora, here we were able to discover shops and see a little bit of everyday life in the town, next to sleepy sea lions resting on benches, marine iguanas basking in the middle of the road and brown pelicans stealing fish in the fishermen’s market.
As the day continued, we moved to the highlands of Santa Cruz, where we had two options. The first option was to visit a local school supported by Lindblad Expeditions, a project that always makes us feel proud. The second is to learn about the production of some local crops, like sugar cane and coffee in the farm of an early colonizer, Don Adriano. In his farm, called Trapiche, some of our bravest guests also tried the strong local moonshine, which is Don Adriano´s family tradition. Lunch was hosted in a cozy and painteresque restaurant called Aquelarre.
The main activity of the afternoon was to visit a tortoise ranch, where our naturalists led us to a Darwinian epiphany in a bizarre scenario where giant reptiles dominate the landscape. Photographers also took advantage of the ideal spot to photograph the animals that gave their name to the islands.
Back on board, local guests arrived to the ship, lecturers from the Charles Darwin Research Station, artisans, musicians and dancers. A great way to immerse ourselves in the Galapagos culture and a wonderful way to end such a delightful day.
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