We will spend today visiting Santa Cruz Island´s most famous highlights. We will have a dry landing in the dock of Puerto Ayora before boarding our vehicle and heading to the Islands highlands. This area, in contrast to the coastal region, has lush vegetation and forest, due to the humidity that gathers in the higher zones. We will visit one of the ranches in the area, where it is possible to see giant tortoises in their natural habitat. As these animals migrate from the coastal area to the highlands and back, the chosen ranch will depend on the presence of the tortoises, as they roam freely and change their locations.
Galapagos hawks and barn owls can be seen here and the surrounding forests are filled with birds such as the vermilion flycatcher and the yellow warbler.
We will enjoy lunch at the ranch before heading back to Puerto Ayora for our second visit of the day, the Charles Darwin Research Station and the Fausto Llerena Breeding Centre.
Here, we will see tortoises from different islands. The animals are found in large semi natural pens for their protection, but also to ensure an easy view for the tourists. The pens are divided according to four different stages: eggs, neonates, juveniles (held here until they are mature enough to be "repatriated"), and adults.
After this visit, we will have some time to explore the town of Puerto Ayora and its many souvenir shops, before boarding the Mary Anne for dinner and the evening briefing.