We spent the whole day at Isabela Island, located in the western part of the archipelago. In the morning, we went out for a hike at Urbina Bay. This visitor site is of recent formation. The upheaval just occurred in 1954, and the place thrives with wildlife. It is home for several species of Darwin’s finches, the Galapagos hawk, and Galapagos land iguanas. Sometimes, Alcedo giant tortoises visit this site, too. The tortoises were numerous this morning, and it was a delight to see them walking along the trails. In the afternoon, we visited the historical site Tagus Cove. Once a place to drop anchor and look for water and food, it is now a great place to kayak and paddleboard. It was fantastic, and we enjoyed every minute. The highlight was to be so close to a huge manta ray. Snorkelers were able to enjoy that, too, and we finished the day with an invigorating hike to the top of the cone and a great Zodiac ride to observe Galapagos penguins! What a fantastic day!
National Geographic Endeavour II
This morning, we explored the northern side of Santa Cruz Island, and our first outing took us to see the Galapagos dragons. This land iguana inhabits the palo santo dry forest. As soon as we disembarked, marine iguanas greeted us as they sunbathed on the Sesuvium carpetweed found along the shoreline. We walked along the trail and found a brackish water lagoon that is usually visited by birds like white-cheeked pintail ducks, black-necked stilts, and sometimes flamingos. Later, we passed through the dry forest of palo santo and breathed in its fragrant aroma as we headed to observe the eroded volcanic ash on the trail. Land iguanas are endemic to this archipelago and can be found nesting in the area or just relaxing under a prickly pear cactus tree. We saw a spectacular number of iguanas, counting twenty during our walk. The bright colors of the iguanas make them a very exciting sight, which our guests enjoyed very much. Later in the afternoon, our younger explorers took Zodiac driving lessons in the company of their parents and a naturalist guide. It was the highlight of the day for them. The rest of our guests opted between getting some exercise while kayaking along the shoreline of Borrero Bay or simply took it slower and joined a Zodiac tour in the area. During the afternoon, we observed big flocks of blue-footed boobies, which are not often seen in high numbers. We also observed brown pelicans, striated herons, baby blacktip sharks, a small eagle ray, and lava gulls. We ended our day by enjoying a glass of wine while circumnavigating Daphne Major and observing the stunning sunset.