We started our first full day of exploration with high energy early in the morning. Our guests, avid explorers, were ready at 6:30 a.m. to climb to the summit of Bartolome Island. This spot is full of volcanic formations, including a parasitic volcano, cinder cones, spatter cones, lava flows, small lava tubes and tuff formations mixed with pyroclastic material. It is the perfect place to see and interpret how the Galapagos Islands began forming more than four million years ago. As soon as we started to walk, the amazing scenery was breathtaking. It seems like you are walking on another planet, such as Mars. In fact, the area is referred to as a moonscape. Along our wooden path that ascended to the top, we found endemic shrubs that have adapted to survive with no rain. These plants just absorb the sea spray. We also spotted redneck lava lizards basking. Once they arrived at the top, our guests were astonished by the view. It was a very special moment, a tonic of wilderness. We contemplated the vast, calm ocean and the dramatic landscape of the several islands that surround Bartolome.
After our walk, we came back to the ship for breakfast. On our way, we saw a very small colony of Galapagos penguins. We were happy and excited, and our Zodiac driver took us to see them up close. The penguins were resting on a black lava rock, maybe after hunting some fish in the water. It was a great show to watch our small black and white friends jump back into the ocean to continue their journey. After having fun on a nice beach located at the foot of the well-known Pinnacle Rock, we went snorkeling along the coast. That was a super activity! We saw rays resting along the sea bottom, whitetip sharks swimming by and a variety of multicolored sea stars. We had a lot of fun in the water.
In the afternoon, we motored to Santa Cruz Island. We arrived at Dragon Hill, a very interesting visitor site that is home to marine and land iguanas. It was a big surprise to find several greater flamingos in a brackish water lagoon, located behind the intertidal zone where we disembarked. We counted around 14 big land iguanas along the path, all of them very colorful. We found other lagoon birds, such as sandpipers and stilts. In the arid zone, we saw finches, anis, flycatchers and mockingbirds.
We started our trip in a great way! It was a happy, happy day, and the sunset was a great ending.