By the time our guests got up this morning, we were anchored at Academy Bay in the south end of Santa Cruz Island. It was a beautiful morning and by 8:00 all our guests reached land; we were on our way to visit a sugar cane mill called El Trapiche. This was a fun experience with a local family and their lifestyle. We tried some of the sugar cane juice as well as the moonshine that is produced at the farm. After this visit we got back on the buses and headed to explore a lava tunnel. This is an old formation that occurred a couple of million years ago, created by a stream of lava flowing down the hill. The top part of the flow cools down first, because it is in contact with the air; this forms a hard crust over the flow. The crust insulates the hotter lava below, and so the lava keeps on flowing until the end of the eruption. This process leaves an empty tunnel or tube in its place.
At noon we headed to the El Manzanillo Ranch where we had a delicious lunch. After lunch the guests of National Geographic Islander II had the chance to observe Santa Cruz giant tortoises in their natural habitat and learn about their history. By 3:30 in the afternoon everybody got back into the buses and headed in different directions. Some of our guests decided to continue learning about one of the most successful and iconic ecological restoration programs on the islands, the Giant Tortoise Rearing Center. This program is jointly run by the Galapagos National Park Service and the Charles Darwin Research Station. Some other guests opted to walk around the community of Puerto Ayora where they enjoyed souvenir shopping, ice creams, and coffees. By sunset everybody was back on board.