The first day of the year started with the first rain of the wet season. Our first visit was to the highlands of Santa Cruz in the central part of the Galapagos. The cloud that forms on top of the volcano creates a very special forest, consisting mainly of a unique species known as Scalesia.

We explored two geological formations known as Los Gemelos. The area is full of lava tubes, epiphytes, mosses, lichens, orchids, and finches. Later in the morning, we visited El Trapiche, a specialty farm where coffee, chocolate, and sugarcane are turned into delicious products.

After learning about the lives of farmers in the Galapagos and tasting a variety of food, we headed to the giant tortoise reserve. This area is designed to allow for the migration of giant tortoises through the agricultural fields. Giant tortoises are a keystone species. They roam the islands with their prehistoric appearance and fertilize the soil to regenerate forests. We enjoyed walking among them, hearing them breathe, and slowly observing their lives.

To finish the day, we visited town, the Charles Darwin Station, and the National Park headquarters. We learned about different projects run by dedicated teams of conservationists and locals in the Galapagos. We visited the tortoise breeding center and witnessed one of the most iconic conservation projects of the Galapagos.