Isabela Island: Urbina Bay and Tagus Cove

Mar 06, 2018 - National Geographic Endeavour II

Today we visited Isabela, the largest island in the Galapagos Archipelago. Isabela was formed by the merging of six different volcanoes, most of which are still active.

Our Zodiacs took us to Urbina Bay; the disembarkation was a bit difficult due to strong swells. On land, the landscape has changed dramatically—the arrival of rains typical of the warm season brought water to land and now we can see an explosion of life. Finches welcome us with their beautiful songs characteristic of the breeding season.

We were lucky to see two giant tortoises on the path, these species is unique to volcano Alcedo. One giant tortoise was particularly curious and got very close to our guests. We also saw several land iguanas. Unfortunately, we also observed a feral cat, an invasive species and a reminder of the consequences of early human settlements here.

In the afternoon we visited Tagus Cove. This is a historic place because Charles Darwin landed here. We kayaked and paddle boarded and saw several penguins as well as flightless cormorants, sea turtles, pelicans and sharks during our outing. Finally, we climbed up hill to observe the fantastic view of Darwin’s Lake.

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About the Author

Luis Vinueza


Luis arrived in the Galápagos Islands for the first time when he was 11 years old in 1983, and from that time on he knew that Galápagos would one day be his home. He returned to the islands in 1995 and spent 14 months camping in a tent. Seven of those months were spent on Española Island, studying the relationship of reproductive success and mate retention of Nazca boobies. In 1997, he started working for the marine lab at the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) on different fields including diving surveys to assess the patterns of marine biodiversity around the Galápagos Marine Reserve. His research included counting lobsters and sea cucumbers and participating as an advisor for CDRS during the negotiation process that led to the 1998 creation of the Galápagos Marine Reserve. 

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