San Jose Island & Puerto Gato

Feb 25, 2019 - National Geographic Sea Bird


Waking up with the view of Sierra de la Giganta—the colors of the volcanic rock, the irregular peaks, the mountains that drop sharply into the Gulf of California—brought joy to my life. The color combination made the scene look as though it were a watercolor of a different planet. I could forever contemplate this surreal land—one inhabited by creatures of the desert and by giant whales in the ocean.

We sailed as far north as San Jose Island for our morning adventures and found amazing wildlife, geology, and scenery. Several guests went for a long hike into a canyon that kept narrowing until there was no other choice than to climb the hills for views over large cardon fields. We encountered a couple of wild goats, several tarantulas, and all the kinds of rocks one could imagine, from metamorphic to volcanic and to granite. Those on photography hikes had many rewards as well. They walked through desert ironwood, mesquite, and palo blanco trees. However, the highlight for most was spotting the rare and endemic Xantus’s hummingbird.

We repositioned the ship to Puerto Gatos, part of the Baja Peninsula mainland, for the afternoon. Most guests snorkeled along the area’s red rocks; the underwater topography was as interesting as the above-sea level fossilized sand dunes. There was also time to go on a natural history hike, paddleboard, and kayak. We were still at Puerto Gato when the sun set illuminated the ancient red rocks.

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About the Author

Paula Tagle

Expedition Leader

Paula grew up in Guayaquil where she obtained an undergraduate degree in geology from the Polytechnic University of Guayaquil. She enjoyed many field trips all around Ecuador and during her vacations traveled in Central and South America in the hope of learning more about her people and culture. The last year of her studies she worked at a mine looking for a more ecologically responsible way of recovering gold. Interested more in volcanoes than in raw materials, she came to Galápagos, a mecca for geologists, in 1992. She was bewitched by the other wonders of the islands and became a naturalist guide for the Galápagos National Park.

About the Videographer

James Biscardi

Video Chronicler

James Biscardi is a young, ambitious professional photographer and videographer. He is always on the lookout for the next big adventure and “telling the story” through film.

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