South Plaza and Santa Fe Islands

Aug 16, 2018 - National Geographic Islander

We woke up anchored near South Plaza Island and after breakfast, explored the pristine habitat where about 300 land iguanas make their home along with Galapagos sea lions and marine birds. This is the only place in Galapagos where hybrids of marine and land iguanas have been documented. On the cliff side, we spotted tropicbirds, shearwaters, swallow-tailed gulls and boobies along with bachelor sea lions. Here we saw land iguanas guard the opuntia cactus trees as precious territory, and the only food source.

After the visit, we swam next to National Geographic Islander on the canal between Santa Cruz and North Plaza Island. The water was refreshing after the long walk. In the afternoon we sailed to Santa Fe, kayaked, took part in short and long walks on the island, and spotted the endemic land iguana. Another day in paradise ends.

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About the Author

Fabian Bucheli


Fabian Bucheli studied at the German School in Quito, graduated from the University of California with a bachelor of science in administration, and earned a master’s degree in international management from Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona. He has studied in Germany, France, Belgium, and Austria and is fluent in German, French, English, and Spanish. He has always been in love with nature and conservation. Explaining abstract concepts became second nature as a teaching assistant in biodiversity and evolution (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) while working towards a PhD in environmental risk management.

About the Videographer

Luis Vela

Luis Vela


Luis was born in a small river town approximately one hour up the Marañon River from the small city of Nauta. Here he lived with his parents and grandparents who taught him about all the marvels of this part of the world. From a very early age he was interested in all things natural in the forests and rivers, and his pets were often parrots and monkeys from the area. The weekends were special because that was when the cargo boats from the big city of Iquitos would arrive with new products like sweet breads, news of the outside world, and brought also foreigners who came to experience the Amazon and to see what lived here.

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