Early in the morning we reached Santa Cruz Island, which is not only the second biggest island in the Galapagos but also the most populated, with something like 20,000 inhabitants. Some own farms, and today we visited Manzanillo Ranch, where giant tortoises move freely in the highland territory. Surrounded by green vegetation, this area is the perfect spot for these gigantic reptiles. They enjoy roaming, resting, and taking muddy baths unbothered by the presence of humans.
National Geographic Endeavour II
Today was a journey into the human experience within the Galapagos territory. Our journey began with an exhilarating Zodiac ride to the second largest island in the archipelago, Santa Cruz. On the first leg of our adventure, we traveled through Puerto Ayora by bus to the Charles Darwin Research Station. We walked through the station and viewed the tortoise breeding grounds. We noted the unique biodiversity and lush greenery of this island as compared to the others. We learned of the story of Lonesome George, the last giant tortoise on the island of Pinta. His legacy is one of hope and serves as a reminder of our responsibility to our planet. We continued winding through highlands to El Trapiche. We experienced the cultivation and processing of coffee and sugarcane. We toured the farm and enjoyed the hospitality of the local family hosts. This wonderful experience included coffee and moonshine tastings, as well as fresh bananas and cocoa beans. We left with a unique family concoction called Trappuccino, which is a blend of coffee, chocolate, and brown sugar. We continued into the highlands until we reached El Manzanillo Ranch. Here, we ate a delicious lunch with a gorgeous view of the grounds. We walked around with our naturalists and discussed conservation efforts for various species of giant tortoises in their natural habitats. Overall, today was a wonderful blend of the Galapagos human experience and its environment. The people who call Galapagos home have truly embraced coexisting with their environment!