Our expedition is almost coming to an end, and yet we continue to marvel at these enchanted Islands’ unique landscapes and fauna. After breakfast we disembarked at the municipal dock of Puerto Ayora (the main town of Santa Cruz) in order to explore the rearing center of giant tortoises located in the facilities of the national park service. Even though we already had the chance to see giant tortoises in the wild in Isabela Island, all of us have been looking forward to this visit because the Charles Darwin Research Center has tortoises from many islands. Therefore we saw many endemic species, starting with tiny hatchlings and then going to the pens of the adults. It was very special to get to see the rearing program step by step.

After the visit to the rearing center, we had some time to walk through town followed by a quick visit to a farm with sugar cane and coffee crops. A nice local family showed us their trapiche (an old sugar cane mill) as they were making various products with sugar cane juice.

After a wonderful lunch in the highlands, we boarded buses to continue visiting Santa Cruz. We arrived at the grassland to start our search of the endemic Santa Cruz giant tortoises in the wild. It was like a giant Easter egg hunt—we did not have to go too far, and today there were so many we lost count! It was a successful visit.

The day came to an end with a delicious dinner aboard and some endemic musicians from town that visited us to play Galapagos songs and perform beautiful dances wearing traditional hand-painted dresses.