Dragon Hill and Eden Islet

Aug 01, 2018 - National Geographic Endeavour II


To the northwest of Santa Cruz, far from the inhabited part of the island, lies this location with remarkable variety in both flora and fauna.

After a dry landing on a rocky terrain, we come across a white sandy beach surrounded by black basaltic rock, combined with the greens and reds of the plants that gives this place an outstanding mosaic of color. Of course, this place is also an inhabited by animals like sea birds, marine iguanas, lava lizards, shore birds such as herons, fish, and crabs in tide pools.

Behind the beach, we explored a brackish water lagoon in which flamingoes could find the favorite food; a microscopic shrimp called artemia salina, which in turn gives them their remarkable pink color. They share the area with other birds likes ducks, stilts, and occasionally other waders as well as shore birds.

The red trail, due to the presence of iron in the rocks, takes us through a palo santo forest, which at this time of the year is without leaves due to lack of rain. Finally, we reach Dragon Hill, where we commonly find land iguanas at any time of the year. Large iguanas, mostly yellow in color, are the highlight of the excursion here.

After coming back on board, we get ready for the new adventure, this time along the walls of a small island called Guy Fawkes for snorkeling. Here live different types of fish, sea lions, sharks, and sometimes rays and turtles.

In the afternoon, we move to a different island called Eden to go on a Zodiac ride along the coast and look for animals like birds or marine life in the mangroves growing along the shore. Turtles and baby sharks, rays and sea lions, inhabit these areas. Some of our intrepid guests went on a kayak to experience quiet while our group of global explorers went to learn how to drive our Zodiacs and have fun around the bay.

The frosting on the cake of our lovely day was a circumnavigation around the island of Daphne Major, where science found the perfect scenario for the study of finches over decades.

Sunset behind the island was great, with birds and other animals flying around us. Wine testing was spectacular as we toasted another fantastic day with a happy conclusion.

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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.

About the Photographer

Socrates Tomala

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Socrates was raised on Santa Cruz Island located in the heart of Galapagos Archipelago.  After a childhood filled with swimming, scuba diving, rock climbing and volunteering in conservation projects, he grew very passionate about the outdoors and the natural world. 

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