Guests onboard National Geographic Endeavour II spent the day exploring Santa Cruz Island. We started the day off with a tour of the Charles Darwin Research Station, where we discussed the important research being conducted in Galapagos and how the gathering of information helps inform management policy in the islands. We focused especially on the giant tortoise captive breeding program at the research station. Guests met the famous Super Diego and viewed the Lonesome George exhibit. The giant tortoise captive breeding program shows us the impact that humans can have on precious environmental resources and icons in the Galapagos Islands.
After visiting the Charles Darwin Research Station, we journeyed to the highlands to visit a small, family-run farm called El Trapiche. Guests learned about the traditional techniques this farm employs to produce sugar, molasses, rum, and coffee. We sampled products from the farm after touring the site. After our visit to El Trapiche, we set off to have lunch at Aquelarre.
In the afternoon, we boarded buses once again to visit El Chato II, a private farm that is home to many Santa Cruz giant tortoises. We roamed the farm and saw giant tortoises of all ages and sizes. Guests had the special opportunity to photograph these spectacular creatures in the wild. We discussed their evolutionary history and ecology while observing their behavior and special adaptations. Being that January is one of the peak mating months for these animals, guests had the special opportunity to observe attempts at copulation. We also walked through a few lava tunnels located on the farm; Santa Cruz Island has the most extensive network of lava tunnels in Galapagos.
After our visit to El Chato II, guests had the option to remain in the town of Puerto Ayora for a couple of hours to enjoy some of the local activities on the island. Many guests chose to buy souvenirs, observe typical community sports, or enjoy a local beer.
In the evening, local scientists from the Charles Darwin Foundation and Island Conservation gave talks about the important research they are conducting in order to better protect the islands, with a special focus on invasive species eradication. Local artisans could be found in the global gallery demonstrating their techniques. After dinner, local musicians and dancers boarded the ship for a special concert.