South Plaza & Santa Fe Islands

Mar 14, 2019 - National Geographic Islander

Today we are visiting two islands near Santa Cruz, the formations of which were born out from volcanic uplift.

We dry-land after breakfast and are met by the gleeful company of sea lions and slightly less gleeful land iguanas. The latter are in great numbers here, a population boom resulting from a lack of predation. An equally large population of cactus trees keeps this brimming population stable with adequate food and shade.

One of the most charming landscapes to be seen here is the lush covering of portulaca. Low elevation allows one to see it at nearly every angle along the ground. At higher elevation we cross resting sea lions, and nearly every seagull spotted here is grounded, caring for their nested young.

In the afternoon, we navigate to the neighboring island of Santa Fe for a continuation of the fun. Kayaks and paddleboards are brought into the bay, giving our guests the most intimate vantages possible of the surrounding landscape and wildlife as they glide along. We later reach shore again, encountering a company of sea lions equally as animated as the first.

Hiking now, we continue along the trail, keeping on the lookout for Santa Fe land iguanas, lava lizards, land birds, and more diverse wildlife species. Even the shallow waters of the bay harbors plenty of life like eagle rays, turtles, white tip reef sharks and others.

The day ends with a beautiful receding sky as the chittering of utensils and hoisted glasses of the night memorialize yet another remarkable day exploring Galapagos.

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About the Author

Patricio Maldonado

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Patricio, better known as Pato amongst his friends, was born in the Galápagos Island. His family moved to the islands from the mainland and settled on the island of Santa Cruz over thirty-five years ago. Pato had an enchanted childhood in the islands, where his keen interest in the wildlife of the Galápagos was born initially through catching lizards and observing how they lost their tails. His experiences in the islands have led him to teach visitors about the need to protect this rare and unique environment.

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