It was an incredible sunrise with red, pink, and blue under some gray clouds. Although it looked like rain might be in store, we stayed dry all day! In the morning, we focused on the giant tortoise rearing program led by the Galapagos National Park. The program was started by researchers and scientists from the Charles Darwin Foundation. We observed tortoises that ranged from tiny, recently hatched babies to true giants. They must be seen to be believed.
Midmorning, everyone prepared to go in different directions. One group set off by bus to the highlands to visit a hydroponic farm, a new way to grow leafy greens on these inhospitable, volcanic islands. Another group visited a traditional farm that grows coffee and sugarcane using mostly traditional methods. Tasting was an essential part of the learning process. The last group visited a small school in the highlands, Tomas de Berlanga. The visit was led by students. Finches fly through classrooms, and green trees shade the paths between buildings. Lindblad Expeditions helps support this bilingual school in many ways, including scholarships. Guests can bring items from the school’s wish list. As a result, the school has a spectacular library and a variety of learning tools in the classrooms.
We enjoyed lunch in the highlands with vistas of green trees, open grassland, and enormous tortoises wandering just a few yards away.
After we had time to photograph, commune with, and observe these creatures with wonder, we returned to town. Guests enjoyed some last-minute shopping before we headed back to the ship. We recuperated just a bit before information was shared in the form of a recap with visiting scientist Patrick Moldowan, principal investigator of the Giant Tortoise Movement Ecology Programme. Dinner was followed by music that included traditional Andean instruments and folkloric dancers from the local community.
Exhausted but happy…we finally went to bed.