To the west are the largest, youngest, and most volcanic islands of the archipelago, and its here where we spent the day today. Our first activity was a visit to Urbina Bay, where guests could choose from either a long or a short hike, both of which offer good opportunities for wildlife sightings such as large land iguanas and giant tortoises.
Land birds are also everywhere here, from Darwin’s finches, Galápagos hawks, warblers and Galápagos mockingbirds to some waders and sea birds like the unique flightless cormorants and penguins.
Another interesting feature of the area is the 1954’s uplift that caused the elevation of the marine bottom by 12 feet over an area of about 5 miles. During the action a great number of marine creatures like sea turtles, sea urchins, lobster, sharks and many more were left high and dry and can be seen as you walk through the inland trail recently colonized by vegetation of different sorts. A great area has large coral heads quite a distance from the water, now with vegetation growing on them.
After a delicious Ecuadorian lunch and a mandatory siesta we prepared for the afternoon activities at another location on Isabela called Tagus Cove, formerly visited by naturalist Charles Darwin. Some guests started early, doing some kayaking along the shore with sea birds like penguins and cormorants resting or nesting.
This was followed by some people going snorkeling off the Zodiacs along the coastline. Here green sea turtles are abundant and incredibly friendly, and penguins come very close as they follow small fish. Cormorants do the same and sometimes are attracted to snorkels and other items people have on and usually play or try to take them away to include as part of their nest. This session in the water was just amazing.
The adventure continued for some who went on a power hike to a small elevation where you can see a salt water lake in an old crater, mostly made of ash and surrounded by local vegetation, whose water is twice as salty as the ocean’s. Some others just decided to take it easy and went on a Zodiac ride to look for the amazing animals that usually hang out on the rocks.
From the ship we spotted some spouts in the distance so we decided to investigate. To our surprise we had a blue whale come just a few feet away from us - it was just amazing to have the pleasure of seeing this, the largest animal that ever lived on this planet. There are very few of these giants of the sea left alive, so we admired it and took many pictures.
Behind us the sun in the horizon announced the last warming ray of the day, one of those days that will stay in the memory for a long time. What an incredible day in the Galápagos Islands.