South Plaza & Santa Fe

Jan 03, 2019 - National Geographic Islander

Today we had a sunny morning with a nice breeze, excellent for our two-hour hike on South Plaza, which is a tiny island of the Galapagos Archipelago, less than one square mile, but with lots of wildlife and an impressive landscape. At the landing spot there is a colony of sea lions, and the pups were playfully waiting for us. Right next to the landing platform we were able to see a group of land iguanas resting under giant cactus trees. Just a little bit further we saw another of the unique species of the islands, the wonderful swallow tailed gulls, nesting on the ground right next to the trail. The island is very interesting geologically speaking, it has the shape of a ramp and is one of the few that resulted from the uplifts of colliding mini plates, so one side is a high cliff about 50 feet, while the other is only few inches above the water. Since the island is so little, it is possible to see the ocean water from every single point of the trail. The combination of colors such as the blue turquoise surrounding the place, and the red and green of the vegetation is simply marvelous. After this experience, we went back to our vessel and we had the chance to swim and refresh ourselves.

In the afternoon, we began our activities with a good session of kayaking at a shallow bay located in Santa Fe Island. This bay is about 1000 feet wide and very circular, it is totally protected and a wonderful place for kayaking and paddle boarding. The depth of the place is about 6 feet on average, so it was possible for us to see the bottom and all the creatures swimming across, such as schools of spotted eagle rays, sea turtles, sea lions and a couple of reef sharks. After the water activities, we were able to land at the beach of the island, where a large colony of sea lions live. We enjoyed a short hike where we saw a couple of land iguanas unique to this particular island and a forest of giant cacti.

By the end of the day, we enjoyed cocktails on board our vessel, watching the very calm sea at the horizon. It was another beautiful day in the Galapagos 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.

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