We began our expedition in the early morning with a visit to Bartolome Island well before breakfast. We had a dry landing and explored the lava fields and the tiquilia (grey mat plant) forest that make this island’s landscape unique. Tiquilias are pioneer plants that colonize new islands together with lava cactuses. Bartolome can be a dream place for the geologist and the ecologist, due to the fascinating lava fields and pioneer plants found all around.
After our exploratory walk to the top of the island for the best landscape views, we visited a different area where we could relax on a golden sand beach at the foot of the iconic Pinnacle Rock. We also explored the island on Zodiacs and with snorkeling gear in hand. This island has an amazing snorkeling site that harbors a large variety of fish as well as Galapagos penguins. Today we were lucky to see these amazing birds in the water as they chased fish in the early morning.
In the afternoon we headed for Santa Cruz Island. After a couple of hours of navigation, we reached Cerro Dragon, where we landed and explored the dry forest in search of iguanas. It was not difficult to find them! Marine iguanas were basking in the sunshine, ready to spend the night on the soft carpet weed that grows on the beach. And as we explored the dry Palo Santo forest we also encountered the iconic land iguanas. Land iguanas usually bask in the early morning sun and in the afternoon they rest close to their burrows. But today a few were out and about looking for food, and others were already asleep! Some were even guarding their cactus trees as they waited for a prickly pear to fall off. Cactuses are vital in this ecosystem and the main source of food for the iguanas.