Santa Cruz is the second largest island in the Galapagos archipelago and home to the largest human population, the Galapagos National Park authorities and the Charles Darwin Research Station. After breakfast we visit the research station, which is one of the world's most successful captive breeding and repatriation programmes. We see the giant tortoise breeding project at first hand and we're lucky enough to see Lonesome George too!
From here we walk into the bustling town of Puerto Ayora and board private buses for a short drive up to the highlands. Here we have the opportunity to walk through a lava tunnel and then enjoy lunch at a local farm. This afternoon we enjoy a wonderful walk through typical highland habitat to see giant tortoises in the wild. And we are not disappointed. By the time we leave the count is over 80! This includes a group of around 15 large specimens all huddled together in a big muddy pond. During our walk we are also delighted to view, close up, the magnificent vermillion flycatcher and several species of Darwin's finches, including, tree finches and the woodpecker finch.
As if the day couldn't get any better, we're joined on board after dinner by a group of local musicians and dancers.