We enjoyed a full day of activities on Espanola, the oldest island in the Galapagos archipelago and thus teeming with wildlife. We began with an early-morning kayak along the coast of Gardner Bay. After breakfast, we spent time at Gardner Beach, where Galapagos sea lions rested after hunting for hours. Deepwater snorkeling on the leeward side of Gardner Islet was a hit, as playful sea lions came to play with our guests and big schools of fish were seen. Our afternoon was crowned with a hike at Punta Suarez, where observed the courtship behavior of waved albatrosses, who are back on Espanola after an absence of four months!
National Geographic Islander II
Today we explored Bartolome Islet and Cerro Dragon on Santa Cruz Island; these areas are remarkably beautiful because they offer impressive views of the Galapagos volcanic landscape. During the morning we hiked and snorkeled in Bartolome. For the afternoon we moved to Cerro Dragon to hike across dry forest looking for Galapagos land iguanas. Bartolome Islet is a small volcanic island located off the east coast of Santiago Island. It is known for its distinctive Pinnacle Rock, a towering volcanic formation that rises out of the sea. The island is relatively barren, with a stark landscape of black lava rocks and sparse vegetation. Right after breakfast the guests of National Geographic Islander II landed at Bartolome and climbed to the summit to take in one of the most scenic views of the archipelago. Our guests also had the opportunity to snorkel in the waters around Pinnacle Rock, where they observed a variety of marine life including fish, sea turtles, Galapagos sea lions, and Galapagos penguins. For the afternoon we explored Cerro Dragon (“dragon hill”), on Santa Cruz Island; this area is named for the land iguanas that live here. It is a volcanic hill on the northwest coast of Santa Cruz, and was formed over a million years ago by a series of volcanic eruptions. The climb up the hill provided breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Along the way, we encountered several land iguanas basking in the sun and occasionally crossing our path. We also saw some species of birds, including Darwin's finches and Galápagos mockingbirds. Once we reached the summit, we were rewarded with panoramic views of the coastline and the nearby islets.