Urbina Bay at Isabela Island

Sep 04, 2018 - National Geographic Endeavour II

In the morning we had calm seas for our Zodiac ride towards the black beach of Urbina bay. This impressive site was underwater up until the year 1954, when magmatic pressure pushed up a slope of Darwin’s volcano and raised six square kilometers of land up above the ocean, with a coral reef included. Nowadays it is home to land iguanas and some giant tortoises. At the very beginning of the trail, we spotted a Galapagos hawk, and few feet further, we encountered our first giant tortoise. This was a fun walk and lasted about two hours—we saw lots of very interesting wildlife, including many active land iguanas preparing for their breeding season, with males exhibiting their bright yellow colors. All our guests were mesmerized by this site. Soon after our walk, we enjoyed a refreshing swimming from the black sand beach.

Back onboard the National Geographic Endeavour II, we repositioned to few miles north of the same island Isabela, to a famous place known as Tagus Cove. This site was a common anchorage for pirates and whalers for many years. At noon, our kitchen department presented their pride and joy, the typical Ecuadorian lunch, full of spices, colors, and delicious tastes. Our guests greatly appreciated the opportunity to sample some of the local cuisines.

At the cove, we offered many different water activities like snorkeling, kayaking and Zodiac cruising. This was our last call for our two flightless birds—the Galapagos penguin and the flightless cormorant. Many turtles and fish of all kinds surrounded us, and as the sun set behind Fernandina, we came back onboard for our evening recap—our fleet-wide tradition. Today we learned about how we use our tools of exploration, photography tips, about plankton and ended with a briefing about tomorrow activities.

Wish you were here with us my dear reader—no matter what you read or see, nothing will prepare you for this wonderful place called the Enchanted Islands.

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About the Author

Lenin Villacis


Lenin was born in the capital city of Quito, where he grew up surrounded by the mountains and volcanoes of the Andean region of Ecuador. At age 17, he received a scholarship to study in Mexico, and a few years later traveled to the U.S. and finished college with a degree in Earth sciences. In 1994 he returned to Ecuador to undergo a training course to become a naturalist guide for his incredibly rich and biodiverse home country, and started working in the Amazon rain forest of Ecuador. 

About the Videographer

Dexter Sear

Video Chronicler

Dexter grew up in England where a love for exploring the countryside ignited a lifelong passion for discovering natural history and embarking on adventure. As a teenager, two trips to India sparked a fascination with insects and a desire to share a “hidden” macro world was born. He produced a popular insect website and authored a reader digest about cultural entomology.

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