Today we visit Santa Cruz, the island in the centre of the Galapagos archipelago and home to the town of Puerto Ayora, the economic and administrative hub of the archipelago. A dry landing at a purpose built jetty and private buses are waiting for us for the short journey to the Charles Darwin Research Station. Accompanied by our guides we visit the giant tortoise breeding project and see tortoises of various ages and sizes!
From the research station we walk to town and enjoy a refreshing cool drink at a café called The Rock. We re-join our buses and drive up to the highlands of Santa Cruz making our first stop at El Trapiche, a family owned farm. We see coffee and sugar cane production and we taste some samples. The sugar cane alcohol (or moon shine!) is particularly strong as a pre-lunch tipple!
Lunch is at a restaurant in the highlands called Narwhal. Another family business! Drinks all round, plus a tasty chicken dish with dessert and tea and coffee to follow. The family here produce home-made marmalade and Dawn purchases a couple of jars to add to the ship’s breakfast. After lunch we drive a little further into the highlands to spot for giant tortoise in the wild. It proves fairly easy. We take a walk around a private farm where the tortoises migrate during the dry season and we see plenty!
Back on board ship at Puerto Ayora we are delighted to welcome a couple of special guests, Dr Steve Blake and Dr Mark Collins. Steve is a well-respected scientist and researcher who has studied the movement and migration of giant tortoises in the Galapagos, and Mark is the current chairman of the UK’s Galapagos Conservation Trust.
Yet more surprises after dinner. A local music and dance group from Santa Cruz entertain us!