We landed on Puerto Ayora, the largest town in the Galapagos. After a dry landing, we took buses to the highlands of Santa Cruz Island to explore a small, family-owned hacienda where they process Galapagos coffee, sugarcane, alcohol, and chocolate. It was a unique way to see what life looked like back in the day.

After visiting the farm, we explored a lava tube. We walked into the second largest lava tube in South America, about a mile long, and learned about the area’s geology. Next, we went to explore the giant Scalesia forest and photographed two large pit craters known as “Los Gemelos,” or twin craters.

After visiting the wilderness of Santa Cruz and the farm, we headed to a small ranch known as Rancho El Manzanillo, where giant tortoises roam free in their natural habitat. We had lunch and explored the area with the tortoises. After the visit to the highlands, some of us went to the tortoise breeding center at the Galapagos National Park. Others returned to National Geographic Islander II.

After dinner, local musicians came aboard and delighted us with a show. What an incredible day!