This morning, National Geographic Endeavour II anchored in Academy Bay, located in the southeast corner of Santa Cruz Island. Home to the largest human population in the Galapagos, Santa Cruz is also the second largest island in the archipelago.
After landing on the main dock of Ayora Port, we took a short bus ride to the entrance of the Charles Darwin Station and the National Park Headquarters. We observed giant tortoises from different islands and learned the details of their breeding in captivity program.
We visited the famous embalmed Lonesome George, the last individual from Pinta Island that unfortunately passed away in 2012. We learned about his interesting history. Afterwards, we visited the exhibition hall of the Darwin Center and learned about some of the conservation programs to protect the environment of the Galapagos.
Then we headed back to our bus and rode to the highlands to visit the Ochoa Hydroponic Farm. Mr. Romel Ochoa, the farm’s owner and pioneer, taught us about a system of agriculture that is important to places with scarce freshwater. He shared details of how the interesting system works and related his personal experiences. He showed us his coffee plantation and shared the different steps to process coffee before hosting a coffee tasting in his home. It was delicious!
After this, we went to the west of the island for lunch. Then we were ready to look for the giant tortoises on their migration route, which crosses the farming zone. Since it was raining, we put on some Wellington boots. Despite the light rain, we had a wonderful time and took many pictures as we learned about these amazing creatures.
We returned the boots and headed to town on the bus. Some guests decided to explore or do some shopping before returning to the ship.
It was a great day full of activities and giant tortoises!