Our destination today was the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island, the second largest island in the archipelago. On our way to the rearing center for giant tortoises, we walked through a very green area full of local vegetation, including the gigantic prickly pear cactus with a trunk like a tree. At the Research Station, we observed the steps that have made this center so successful. We had the chance to be very close to the giant tortoises and their babies, as well as the taxidermy of the now famous tortoise Lonesome George, a symbol of hope.
Later in the morning, we took buses to the highlands of Santa Cruz. First, we opted for different options, including visiting two local farms. One is a hydroponic farm. The second farm harvests sugarcane and converts it to different products, including chilled, filtered sugarcane juice, melasa, and, of course, rum. We enjoyed seeing the processes of fermentation and distillation. We also observed the processing of local organic coffee, which is harvested, dried, roasted, and grinded. We had a taste of all local products. Some guests had coffee, and many had rum….
Soon after, we all enjoyed a tasty meal at a local restaurant located just 900 feet or so away. Many guests continued exploring the area to observe the world-famous giant tortoises, Geochelone porteri, Santa Cruz Island’s endemic species. We had a great time walking among the grass-feeding tortoises in their natural habitat during the first rain of the season. We found some tortoises that weigh over 400 pounds. With their majestic shells, shiny and wet, they simply stared at us.
Today’s visit was outstanding, and our expedition is about to reach its peak. We are already a big family, bonded by a mystical magic that is the Galápagos Islands.