Giant Tortoises

Santa Cruz is the second largest island in Galápagos and home to the largest human population and the Charles Darwin Research Centre. This morning we’re at the town of Puerto Ayora, home to over 18,000 inhabitants. We make a dry landing on the dock and transfer to the Research Centre to learn about one of the most successful captive breeding programmes … for giant tortoises. This was home to Lonesome George, the last of the Pinta Island tortoises.

After our visit we stroll along the main street, pass the busy fish market and meet at The Rock, a well-known café/bar. A refreshing cool drink is our reward. From The Rock we board small buses for the journey to the highlands. On route we visit a family owned farm called El Trapiche where we see small scale coffee and sugar cane in production. The family also produces a rather strong sugar cane liquor which most of us try out. Rather strong is somewhat understating it. Somehow our video chronicler Eric has three glasses! We’re assuming his filming this afternoon will be rather wobbly.

Lunch is enjoyed at Narwhale, our restaurant in the middle of a rain forest … and it certainly seems like a rain forest today, as it is pouring down. Great for tortoises, not quite so convenient for tourists, but it does improve. After a tasty lunch including complimentary drinks, we drive a short distance and don wellington boots for a walk to see giant tortoises in the wild. And we are duly rewarded.

Back in Puerto Ayora most of our guests head back to the ship, while a few “party-goers” try some early-evening cocktails at The Rock. Oops, where are the Furlongs management?!

Pre-dinner we welcome Tui De Roy, a world-renowned wildlife photographer who has spent most of her life in Galápagos. Although Tui now lives in New Zealand, we're fortunate she is in Puerto Ayora this week and Lynn kiindly arranged for her to come on board. Tui travelled to Galápagos with her pioneering parents when she was just 3 years old and has an amazing life story to tell. Truly a special guest and passionate about the islands and conservation in general.

After dinner we have another treat. Local school teachers Ghandi and Berta have secretly snuck on board with their group of student musicians and dancers to perform for us in the lounge. We concluded with some involuntary but highly enjoyable audience participation! Even Captain Patricio joined in!