We arrived at Santa Cruz Island after several days on the western side of the archipelago. We spent the morning at the headquarters of the Charles Darwin Foundation and the giant tortoise breeding center to better understand conservation efforts. Here, we saw baby tortoises up close and followed the whole process from incubation to repatriation.
Later we visited the highlands. Some groups went to a sugar cane farm where we saw the way farmers live away from the sea and deep in the forest, based on coffee and sugar cane crops. Here we could taste coffee, chocolate, liquor, and many fruits. The rest of us visited a hydroponic farm that provides National Geographic Endeavour II with fresh vegetables. The farm is a small family run business that is committed not only to organic farming but to helping reforestation projects by growing endemic plants.
After lunch we visited El Manzanillo ranch, which is a giant tortoise preserve. These agricultural fields now act as a natural corridor for giant tortoise migration. We walked among these giants, observing their prehistoric presence, and learning from them.