Today we woke up in Academy Bay, the main port of Santa Cruz Island. After a delicious breakfast, we got ready for our adventure. First, we headed to the Charles Darwin Research Station to visit the Fausto Llerena Breeding Center. Here we were able to witness two different morphotypes of giant tortoises. We saw baby tortoises less than a year old, and we learned so many interesting things about these wonderful creatures. We also learned about the efforts of the national park and the Charles Darwin Research Station to keep Galapagos as pristine as it is today.

The Galápagos Islands became a national park more than 60 years ago. When this happened, we realized that the giant tortoise population was in critical danger with only around 10,000 of them. After all this time breeding them and helping them recover their ecosystems in the wild, nowadays those numbers have almost tripled.

After our visit, we took a walk along the Main Street of Puerto Ayora, the largest town in the Galapagos. We did some shopping, took amazing pictures, and headed to the highlands.

Our first stop was Don Adriano’s farm, a traditional, family-owned sugarcane farm where many of our guests saw (often for the first time) crops like cacao, coffee, and sugarcane. We also learned how the crops are processed.

We ended our day with the best experience in the islands. We had to go and see our giants (giant tortoises, that is) in their natural environment. We visited Rancho El Manzanillo, where we enjoyed a great lunch surrounded by these amazing creatures!

After we came back on board, we had a talk about the human history of the islands. Before we went to bed, our great Captain Eduardo Neira gave a concert. We danced and had so much fun.

Photo caption and photographer: Naturalists enjoying Captain Eduardo Neira’s concert. Photo by Roberta Schiess