From the National Geographic Endeavour in the Galapagos
Jan 29, 2013 - National Geographic Endeavour
Urbina Bay & Tagus Cove, Isabela Island
To see the young volcanoes of the west of the archipelago is to see the real Galapagos. This area has never been inhabited, and much of the natural environment and endemic and native species remain almost untouched here. This morning we are set to explore Urbina Bay, a section of the coast of western Isabela which was uplifted in 1954. This caused many underwater creatures, like lobsters, turtles, and corals to be stranded away from the ocean. It is quite amazing to find the old beach far inland, its rounded pebbles now part of the territories of the local population of endemic land iguanas. The morning temperature stayed quite comfortable; therefore we encountered numerous bright-yellow iguanas along the trail. Urbina Bay is part of the apron of a major volcano, Alcedo. This area has its own species of giant tortoises, and we were very fortunate to be able to see several today. However, they decided to stay in the shade under the thick vegetation, probably to avoid the heat of the morning. Urbina’s vegetation is abundant due to higher humidity, so we enjoyed the sighting of several flowers along the trail, like the yellow cordia and Galapagos cotton flowers, as well as endemic Darwin daisies! Upon return to the landing beach, we had a chance to go for a dip in the water to cool off after the strenuous but thoroughly enjoyable walk.
During midday, our ship navigated northbound and dropped anchor at Tagus Cove. This is a historical place, renowned by old seafarers for being a safe anchorage and for the presence of a semi-permanent fresh water spring nearby. Geologically, Tagus is fascinating; enormous tuff cones surround it, and tall cliffs offer the perfect habitat to various marine species like the Galapagos penguin and flightless cormorants. The underwater world along these cliffs is very rich too, something which was experienced by a group of snorkelers. At the same time, a group of intrepid kayakers preferred to explore the area from above the water. Later in the afternoon a couple of options were offered, either to take a hike behind Tagus Cove or a Zodiac ride in the nearby coast. The uphill trail is full of wonderful landscapes which include a hidden lake and the vast lava fields of nearby Darwin volcano. How many past visitors have walked in this area we don’t know, but surely they have all enjoyed the magnificent landscapes of this remote corner of the Enchanted Islands.