Our last full day in the Galápagos was spent on the spectacular northern island of Genovesa, one of the most pristine islands in the archipelago. At around 5:30 a.m., we entered the bay into a huge submerged caldera of this ancient dormant volcano. This was an overwhelming seabird experience. There were hundreds of birds to see: from frigate birds, red-footed boobies, Nazca boobies and swallow-tailed gulls, to storm petrels and tropicbirds.
Our first landing in the morning was to Darwin Bay beach, a coralline beach surrounded by hundreds of birds. Young great frigate birds were waiting on their nests looking for some food from their parents. Red footed boobies were making their nests, while Nazca boobies were incubating eggs. We were so close to the birds that sometimes we had to step back in order to get a better picture, as some of them were practically in the middle of the trail. A nice, soft walk along the beach took as to the tide pools surrounded by mangroves, a favorite nesting site for the red footed boobies, while many yellow crown night herons were taking advantage of the fiddler crabs and fish trapped on the tide pools, all under the watch of the always attentive frigate birds.
After the hike, we had time to go back on board to change for our second option, deep water snorkel or a nice kayak outing along the cliffs of the caldera. We were back onboard in time for our departure briefing; we were ready once again for a fresh and always healthy lunch.
Later on, our young explorers went through the evaluation of the Naturalist contest, and many of them were still making efforts to win points.
A second kayak outing was offered just before our afternoon hike, this time to the next visitor site, known as Prince Philip's Steps, after the Duke of Edinburgh. Here the trail goes through a Palo Santo forest to a storm petrel colony, passing boobies and frigates along the way. The view of the outside border of the caldera is always amazing, as hundreds of birds use the cracks on the lava flow to nest, a behavior that is convenient for the short eared owls, that here hunt during the day. Our visitors were lucky enough this afternoon to see the owls hunting and even eating their prey, only few feet away from us.
On the way back, we had a beautiful ending of the trip, cruising the bay under a fantastic sunset with pink-lila skies. A day and a trip to remember forever!