San Cristobal and Cerro Brujo

Mar 09, 2019 - National Geographic Islander

This morning National Geographic Islander brought us to Punta Pitt, located at the northeastern tip of the archipelago’s second oldest island. After breakfast we disembarked for this beautiful golden beach. We then made our way to the top of a tuff hill to survey the landscape’s many colors and textures, a topography shaped greatly by erosion from the prevailing winds of the area.

Along the way, we spotted nesting blue- and red-footed boobies perched on tree branches; these are the only boobies across the Galapagos capable of doing this.

After three hours of hiking and surveying the land, we returned for a refreshing swim. On shore a group of Galapagos Sea Lions napped while a stray oyster catcher hunted in between the shore and waves for shellfish. Further inland, marine iguanas hid in the shade as the red- and blue-footed boobies flew near where we swam. By 11 a.m. the sun was coming on strong, so we went back to National Geographic Islander for fresh papaya juice and cookies.

After lunch we departed to Cerro Brujo or “Wizard Hill.” The sand here is nearly as fine and white as talcum powder, and that with the island’s bright blue water and shiny black lava rocks made for a stunning color contrast. Amazing here is how in such a short distance, we find landscape and colors completely different from those found at Punta Pitt.

What a remarkable time that we had here, walking the beach, admiring sea lions, and by the end of it just sitting there to think over this whole week we’ve had on the Enchanted Islands.

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About the Author

Pablo Valladares


Pablo was born in Quito, capital of one of the most biodiverse countries in the world and has been captivated by nature for as long as he can remember.  His mother showed him his first giant tortoise when he was 5 years old and that image remained engraved in his mind.  At age 7, his father gave him a special gift:  a map of the Galapagos with drawings of penguins, sea lions, tortoises, pelicans and more.  Those images inspired him at an early age and led him to study Biology at Guayaquil University.  While at university, Pablo worked as a guide for Environmental Education Camps in the mountains of Ecuador.  Upon completing his degree, he travelled to Puerto Villamil, the small human settlement on Isabela Island to work as a volunteer with the Galapagos National Park Service’s Giant Tortoise Breeding Center for 6 months. During his free time, he also got involved with the Environmental Education Program run by the Charles Darwin Foundation Ecological Club, where he helped run outdoors, nature-based activities with the local children.  This combination of a passion for nature and working with the young eventually led to a full-time job with the Isabela branch of the Charles Darwin Foundation, where he worked for 8 years in different programs supporting Galápagos Conservation. It was during this time that he first learned about Lindblad Expeditions, as he would bring kids from the local ecological clubs on board the National Geographic Islander to perform theatrical pieces about Galapagos conservation issues that they had prepared specifically!

About the Photographer

Socrates Tomala

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Socrates was raised on Santa Cruz Island located in the heart of Galapagos Archipelago.  After a childhood filled with swimming, scuba diving, rock climbing and volunteering in conservation projects, he grew very passionate about the outdoors and the natural world. 

About the Videographer

Eric Barnes

Video Chronicler

Eric is a native of Southern California and has been taking pictures for as long as he can remember.  He made a career as a news photographer, working for local and national news agencies.  As a photojournalist, Eric has documented some of the most important news events both nationally and around the world.  He has covered everything from the tsunami in Thailand to the war in Afghanistan and countless other compelling stories.

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