San Cristobal Island
Leaving the youngest island of the archipelago, we headed east to visit San Cristobal, where the political capital of the province of Galapagos is located.
Early in the morning the National Geographic Endeavour dropped anchor in front of Punta Pitt; the volcanic scenery was spectacular, with gigantic elevations and many red footed boobies and frigate birds gliding in the air. After breakfast we headed to the landing beach, its golden color contrasted with the turquoise water and the black bodies of the sea lions that laid on it peacefully. Walking inland the trail was wet because of the last rainfall; that water had formed waterfalls and small rivers a few days ago.
Uphill, the narrow trail climbed an eroded tuff cliff around to the far side of the large eroded tuff cone that forms the point. In the distance, we observed many frigate birds nesting on the trees along the cliffs while others were chasing incoming boobies trying to steal their food. We heard their unmistakable desperate noise trying to escape from those well known pirates of the air.
Finally we arrived to the top of the hill; the view from there was spectacular. The flat terrain made our hike easier and gave us the opportunity to observe many new endemic species of plants such as the Galapagos clubleaf, Oily Pectus and Galapagos Maltplant. The vertical cliffs and lack of beaches was the pattern along the east side of Punta Pitt. This lack of sandy area was the reason that marine iguanas had to move inland to nest in the soft soil. We observed many empty burrows and many marine iguanas with their dusty bodies digging new ones to lay their eggs.
Approaching to the cliffs, the best attraction was waiting for us. Perched on bushes and trees, many red footed boobies nested caring for their chicks or eggs; their brown or white plumage, their blue bill and their fluffy chicks delighted our guests. In the distance, close to the ocean, Nazca boobies nested on the ground or flat rocks, leaving their white guano everywhere. In the air, frigate and blue footed boobies were gliding like kites as they looked for fish along the immense ocean.
In the afternoon we sailed west to arrive at the colossus “Leon Dormido,” the rock in the middle of the ocean. We headed the Zodiac to snorkel along it. The weather conditions were perfect, with great visibility and a very calm ocean. We observed many sea turtles, Galapagos sharks and white tipped reef sharks, it was great to see how easy it was to approach these fearless creatures, as they were swimming so close to us.
We came back aboard to circumnavigate the gigantic rock while observing the great number of sea birds nesting on it, with a beautiful sunset in the west. We will remember this magical week with new friends and good memories that will be part of our lives forever.