Our first full day in the Galapagos started early in the morning. With the first rays of sun and a light blizzard to refresh us, we boarded Zodiacs headed towards Bartolomé Island. Just before landing on the small dock, a group of sea lions swam close to us. In the air, blue-footed boobies began their daily routine, diving into the calm waters in search of food.
We began to walk along the wooden steps, heading toward the top of the island. We observed the impressive and completely sterile volcanic landscape. Solidified lava flows everywhere, lava tubes and parasitic cones with very irregular formations showed us the geological past of the archipelago. From the top, the landscape was simply spectacular. Many of the central islands were visible, such as Santa Cruz, Santiago, Rábida and Chinese Hat. To the west, Pinnacle Rock delighted our guests. This rock formation, which is the remnant of a volcanic caldera eroded by seawater, is probably the most popular and most photographed formation in the Galapagos.
After breakfast, we returned to the island, but this time to the golden beach that separates Pinnacle Rock from the southern part of the island. There we enjoyed our first snorkeling, discovering an incredible underwater world with abundant tropical fish, such as sergeant majors, salemas, stingrays and king angelfish. We even spotted sea turtles and whitetip sharks. But it was a Galapagos penguin swimming near the beach to catch fish that probably delighted our guests the most. On the rocks, we spotted two other penguins drying their feathers as they took advantage of the sunny morning.
After returning on board, National Geographic Islander lifted anchor to start sailing south towards Santa Cruz Island. At 3:15 p.m., we landed at Cerro Dragon with the mission of finding the land iguana, endemic to the Galapagos. Inland, we found the first surprise. In the lagoon behind the coralline beach, we found an American flamingo feeding on small crustaceans. We got close enough to appreciate its beautiful plumage and its legs, blackened with mud. Not far from the flamingo, we spotted a couple of lava gulls, some black-necked stilts, whimbrels and sanderlings.
After passing near the palo santo forest, we came across a couple of land iguanas. A female raised her head vertically, courting a male sneaking up on her by moving his head vertically. This ritual was repeated for a few minutes. Along the way, we came across many iguana burrows. In the trees, Galapagos flycatchers and yellow warblers fluttered through branches of the palo santo trees. Just before sunset, we boarded our Zodiacs. From there, we had the opportunity to watch the sun gradually disappear below the horizon. In our hearts, we held onto the joy of a wonderful day full of unique creatures and spectacular landscapes. These memories will remain with us forever.