Santiago Island

Dec 13, 2017 - National Geographic Endeavour II

The morning was sunny and warm at Santiago Island. We explored three visitor sites today, Espumilla Beach, Buccaneer’s Cove and then Puerto Egas in the afternoon.

Santiago is the third largest island in the Galapagos archipelago and an optimal sea turtle nesting area, apparent by the turtle tracks left in the sand from last night. During our early morning landing this morning, our guests spotted a few sea birds as diving into the ocean like torpedoes next to our Zodiacs. Upon landing on golden sand of Espumilla Beach, we were astonished by the beauty of this place. We quickly spotted several Galapagos hawks, which are the top predators on these unique islands. The high concentration of this iconic raptor is due to the abundant food source of hatchling turtles in this ideal nesting area. Many of these hawks were juveniles waiting to get some food from their parents, and they were just as curious about us as we were about them. This incredible close wildlife encounter all occurred before breakfast, and we could tell that this was just the beginning of another incredible day in this magical place. Back aboard the National Geographic Endeavor II, our avid explorers downloaded their photos from their memory cards and charged their batteries before our next adventure at the historic and scenic Buccaneer Cove, a well-known pirate hangout and the place that Charles Darwin spent most of his five weeks exploring these islands. After paddle-boarding, kayaking and snorkeling in the incredible submarine world of this reserve, we returned to our ship for lunch.

For our evening adventure, we explored a wildlife hotspot called Puerto Egas. The backdrop to this panoramic landscape was made up of beautiful red volcanic cinders that flowed to the ocean, and the rocky coastline was occupied by many endemic species like Galapagos fur seals, Galapagos sea lions and marine iguanas. Our adventurous day ended with a spectacular sunset as we made our way back to the beach trail to the Zodiac landing site. Santiago Island is one of the true gems of the Galapagos archipelago and one of the highlights of this exciting photo expedition.

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About the Author

Christian Saa

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Christian was born on the island of Isabela in the Galápagos archipelago. He grew up on a farm and had a magical childhood devoid of cars, electricity, telephones—just pure nature and playful sea lions along the beach. At the age of seven, he moved with his family to Santa Cruz Island, the economic hub of the Galápagos Islands. His father began to work in tourism and took Christian around the islands during school vacations. It was during this time that Christian learned to love and understand the real value of this unique archipelago, and he decided to devote his life to its stewardship. A lifelong passion for nature and its creatures took root in his heart, and he eventually decided to become a naturalist, which he has now been doing for 18 years now.

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