Charles Darwin and Giant Tortoises
This morning we wake up at anchor off Puerto Ayora, home to over 18,000 inhabitants and the economic hub of the archipelago. After breakfast we land at a private jetty near the Charles Darwin Research Station, where scientists gather information for the conservation of the Galapagos Islands. Accompanied by our guides we visit one of the most successful captive breeding programmes in the world: the giant tortoise breeding project. The station was the home of Lonesome George, the last of the Pinta Island tortoises. From here we walk into town via the numerous gift shops and cafes. We meet up at a popular café called the “The Rock”. A refreshing juice is served before we join our local buses to drive up into the highlands of Santa Cruz island. The first bus to leave is for the cyclists! Some mad folk have signed up to cycle the last 3 miles to our first stop at a coffee and sugar cane plantation called “El Trapiche”. The cycling road is good but generally uphill so on arrival the participants definitely need reviving.
With everyone together we learn about small scale coffee and sugar cane production, and we taste some samples – including a high alcohol liquor. Wow, and it’s not lunchtime yet.
A short drive up the road we reach a farmstead restaurant called “Narwhal”. Lunch comprises a very tasty chicken dish followed by carrot cake, with complimentary drinks all round. Suffice to say after various drinks the majority of guests take a discreet nap on the drive back to town!
Back on board ship at Puerto Ayora we are pleased to invite Mr Swen Lorenz to speak to us during our pre-dinner briefing. Swen is the Executive Director of the Charles Darwin Foundation and his introduction to the work being undertaken is fascinating.