Isabela is the largest island in the Galapagos. It represents 50% of the total area of the archipelago, and is one of the most beautiful for the diversity of its fauna, flora, and underwater world. Isabela is named after Isabel de Castilla, Queen of Spain during the late 1400s, who helped Columbus discover America.
Today we visited the southern region of the island. We first hiked along the unique geological landscape of Urbina Bay, a place that before 1954 was submerged in the ocean. It was suddenly uplifted by magma, sending more than two square kilometers of ocean floor to the surface. These geological changes allowed us to spot a unique interaction of remains: exoskeletons of corals, sea worms, and barnacles, combined with poison apple trees, spiny shrubs, and arid zone vegetation. Within such a relatively new landscape, the presence of giant tortoises and land iguanas made our exploration even more exciting. The population recovery of these land iguanas is the consequence of long-term efforts to eradicate introduced species. Along the trail we also observed a diversity of finches and mockingbirds, hopping and singing around the greenery of Isabela. We ended this exciting walk with a well-deserved swim at the beach of Urbina Bay.
Just before noon, National Geographic Endeavour II began its voyage north toward Tagus Cove. As one of the best-known sites for visitors of yesteryear, this cove was a popular hideout for pirates after attacking and looting the Spanish galleons. After lunch, we started our first activities at this site. Some guests kayaked here; the small, U-shaped cove provided a wonderful panorama and a great chance to observe flightless cormorants and Galapagos penguins. Other guests chose to go snorkeling; they discovered a great number of sea turtles, penguins, and colorful fish in the waters of Tagus Cove. To end our day, we climbed a wooden stairway to astonishing views of Darwin Lake and the lava flows of Darwin Volcano. Different species of finches made wonderful company as we made our return trip. An inspiring sunset colored the landscapes, while seabirds flew back to their nests. Tired but happy, we returned to National Geographic Endeavour II with great memories of an incredible day in this unique natural paradise.