It was early morning, and the sun was already shining. Our guests left the ship to go explore town of Puerto Ayora. This is the largest human settlement on the islands, with 22,000 inhabitants. There is plenty to see and do. We began by visiting the Galapagos National Park Breeding Center, where our guests could learn more about what this institution is doing to preserve one of the most charismatic animals in the archipelago, the giant tortoises.
We spent the morning learning and photographing baby tortoises, and adult breeders. After this visit our guests had the opportunity to visit the fishermen’s dock, which is a very interesting place. Fresh fish, curious and hungry pelicans, and local fishermen are all found here, together demonstrating that harmony can exist between these different species.
People started gathering at our meeting point and soon after buses were taking us to our next destination. Some of us went to visit the local school that Lindblad Expeditions supports in the islands, Tomás de Berlanga School. Some others went to the Trapiche, which is a local farm that produces several different products. Organic coffee and sugar cane moonshine are the most popular for sure! Guests not only learned about the process, but also had the chance to take some of these products back home with them while supporting the local efforts.
Then, our lunch was waiting for us at Aquelarre, a restaurant at the heart of the Santa Cruz highlands. Surrounded by vegetation, we enjoyed a fantastic meal and recovered our energies. Soon we were ready for the last part of our day, visiting the giant tortoise reserve.
Buses took us to the Chato Ranch, were we walked next to ancient reptiles – giant tortoises! Guests were very surprised to learn how long these animals can live up to 200 years! The best way to finish this visit was walking through the lava tunnels that are also found in this location.