Today we stepped off the Zodiac into the bustling town of Puerto Ayora located on Santa Cruz Island. Our group’s naturalist Bernardo Jacome lives here and shared a unique window into life in the world’s crown jewel of conservation. We began the day by exploring the Charles Darwin Research Station’s giant tortoise captive breeding program. We took a moment to reflect when we met the late “Lonesome George,” the last of the Pinta Island tortoises, which are now extinct.

Guests chose to visit a local organic farm, a sugarcane mill, or a local school before heading to Rancho Manzanillo to meet the giant tortoises on their terms and in their habitat. We explored the town, meeting with local artisans and learning about research efforts to preserve the vanishing vermillion flycatcher population. We boarded the ship and ended the night with Ecuadorian music and dancers swirling through the lounge.