Today we woke up in Academy Bay, the main port of Santa Cruz Island. With more than 20,000 residents, Santa Cruz has the largest population of all the islands in the Galapagos. After a delicious breakfast, we got ready for our adventure. First, we headed to the Charles Darwin Research Station to visit the Fausto Llerena Breeding Center. Here we witnessed two different morphotypes of giant tortoises. We saw tortoises ranging from one month old up to over 100 years old. We learned so many interesting things about these wonderful creatures. We came to understand the goals and appreciate the efforts of the national park and the Charles Darwin Research Station. One of their main goals is to keep the Galapagos pristine. The Galápagos Islands became a national park more than 60 years ago. When this happened, the giant tortoise population was in critical danger with a population of only around 10,000. After time and efforts spent on breeding and rehabilitating their ecosystems in the wild, those numbers have almost tripled.
After our first visit, we took a walk along the main street of Puerto Ayora, the largest town in the Galapagos. We did some shopping, took amazing pictures, and visited the fishing pier. After this, we headed to the highlands were our guests split into groups. One group visited Don Adriano’s farm, a traditional, family-owned sugarcane farm where many of our guests saw (often for the first time) crops like cacao, coffee, and sugarcane. We also learned how the crops are processed. Another group visited the Tomas de Berlanga School, which is supported by the LEX Fund. Our guests had a great cultural experience as they learned about education in this community.
We ended our day with the best experience in the islands. We visited giant tortoises in their natural environment at Rancho El Manzanillo, where we enjoyed a great lunch surrounded by these amazing creatures!
After our amazing day outside the ship, we came back on board and had the opportunity to meet artisans supported by the LEX Fund. The artisans explained how they create their gorgeous art! To close the day, we enjoyed a visit from Eco Arte, a group of performers from the Galapagos. We enjoyed dancing and singing, and we had so much fun!