This morning we explored the easternmost point of San Cristobal Island, one of the driest areas in Galapagos. This contrasts starkly with the westernmost point of this same island — which is the wettest location of the whole archipelago. This is a natural phenomenon that occurs in some of the big islands, creating different conditions for different animals and plants. In some areas of the Galapagos we have thirty inches of rain a year; a different part of the same island may receive less than five inches. The archipelago has up to six different vegetation zones with different animals and plants; this may be the reason why the islands have a high degree of endemism.
National Geographic Endeavour II
Our second day in the western region brought a lot of surprises and great encounters. We started the morning with a hike at Urbina Bay on Isabela Island. The popular visitors’ site is known for its unique geological formations and diverse wildlife. The bay itself was formed during a volcanic uplift event in 1954 when the sea floor was lifted several meters, exposing a vast stretch of rocky coastline. One of the highlights this morning was the opportunity to observe Galapagos giant tortoises in their natural habitat. These tortoises are endemic to the Galapagos Islands and are famous for their large size and longevity. Aside from the giant tortoises, Urbina Bay is also home to a variety of other wildlife species, including marine iguanas, sea lions, land birds, and Galapagos penguins. After the hike, guests had a chance to snorkel in the bay. They spotted a variety of marine life, such as sea turtles, penguins, and colorful fish. Alcedo Volcano is one of the active volcanoes on Isabela Island; it is the highest volcano in the Galapagos, reaching an elevation of approximately 5,600 feet. This volcano is known for its population of Galapagos giant tortoises. The slopes of the volcano provide an ideal habitat for these creatures. These giant tortoises have some unique characteristics compared to tortoises found on other islands in the Galapagos, including a larger size and differences in shell shape. We sailed to Tagus Cove during lunch. With its amazing human history, the site is also known for its historical significance and stunning natural beauty. The cove is named after the British warship HMS Tagus , which anchored in the area in 1814. Tagus Cove offers impressive views of volcanic formations, including tuff cones and lava fields. Here, we snorkeled, kayaked, hiked, and took a Zodiac ride to end another magnificent day in the Galapagos!