Española Island is the oldest of the Galapagos Islands, as it sits on the southeastern end of the archipelago. The islands are of volcanic origin and form because of the activity of what geologists call a hot spot. As the Nazca Plate slides to the southeast over the volcano, new islands develop. This means that the islands towards the northwest are the youngest, and the ones on the opposite end are the oldest.
National Geographic Endeavour II
Today was a journey into the human experience within the Galapagos territory. Our journey began with an exhilarating Zodiac ride to the second largest island in the archipelago, Santa Cruz. On the first leg of our adventure, we traveled through Puerto Ayora by bus to the Charles Darwin Research Station. We walked through the station and viewed the tortoise breeding grounds. We noted the unique biodiversity and lush greenery of this island as compared to the others. We learned of the story of Lonesome George, the last giant tortoise on the island of Pinta. His legacy is one of hope and serves as a reminder of our responsibility to our planet. We continued winding through highlands to El Trapiche. We experienced the cultivation and processing of coffee and sugarcane. We toured the farm and enjoyed the hospitality of the local family hosts. This wonderful experience included coffee and moonshine tastings, as well as fresh bananas and cocoa beans. We left with a unique family concoction called Trappuccino, which is a blend of coffee, chocolate, and brown sugar. We continued into the highlands until we reached El Manzanillo Ranch. Here, we ate a delicious lunch with a gorgeous view of the grounds. We walked around with our naturalists and discussed conservation efforts for various species of giant tortoises in their natural habitats. Overall, today was a wonderful blend of the Galapagos human experience and its environment. The people who call Galapagos home have truly embraced coexisting with their environment!