Dec 19, 2018 - National Geographic Endeavour II
Leaving behind the town of Puerto Ayora, we motored to the north side of Santa Cruz, where conditions are very different from the lush environment we just visited. This is due to the rain shadow effect. The landscape is dry and gray because the humid air stays at the south of the island, trapped by a tall volcano with an elevation of 900 meters above sea level.
We started our morning at Dragon Hill, looking for Galapagos land iguanas. This restored area is now home to a healthy population of them. We also enjoyed the company of migratory birds such as pintail ducks, sandpipers, seagulls, and whimbrels. They gathered close to our trail, feeding on the nutritious ooze of the brackish water lagoon.>
In the afternoon, it was time to change into our bathing suits for snorkeling from Guy Fawkes Islets and beach time on Dragon Hill, both rewarding experiences. Afterward, we moved to a small islet known as Eden, where we explored the shores by Zodiac or kayak, navigating through mangrove forests that were home of nesting shorebirds. We also came across sea turtles and sea lions. The area is also a shark nursery for hammerheads and black-tipped sharks.
For the evening’s activity, we circumnavigated Daphne Island, a notable scientific site, where scientist Peter Grant and his partner have followed the steps of Charles Darwin, studying several generations of finches for decades. We learned about these fascinating studies while enjoying a sunset cocktail on the sundeck surrounded by a magical sky of oranges and reds.
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