Today is the first full day of our expedition in the Galapagos Islands aboard National Geographic Islander II, and we visited the most populated island, Santa Cruz. There are around 20,000 people here. In the morning, we took buses up to the highlands to visit Los Gemelos, also known as the Galapagos Twin Craters. This area is surrounded by a beautiful scalesia forest. Later in the morning, we went to Rancho el Manzanillo, where the giant tortoises were waiting for us. In the afternoon, we got to see the Darwin Center, where the most important research happens in the Galapagos Islands.
National Geographic Islander II
We started our day early on Santa Cruz Island, located in the center of the archipelago. We passed through town, the biggest settlement in the archipelago, on our way to the highlands, where our visit took place. We visited El Trapiche farm, where we met a family that farms coffee and sugarcane. We learned how the people of the highlands live, and we also tried some of the products they grow. Afterwards, we visited Los Gemelos, big geological formations in the middle of a Scalesia forest. Surrounded by this special vegetation, we explored the ecosystem, birds, and epiphytes. To end the morning, we visited El Manzanillo Ranch, where tortoises are found everywhere. The ranch is located right in the middle of the migration route of these prehistoric animals, so we had the opportunity to see them up close and learn all about them while they were feeding, sleeping, and walking around. In the afternoon, we visited the Charles Darwin Research Station and the National Park Headquarters. We walked on a special path created to educate visitors about the projects these institutions are working on. We explored a small part of town and the fish market, where we saw the catch of the day on display.