James, Santiago or San Salvador Island:

Apr 04, 2019 - National Geographic Islander

Today we wake near Buccaneer’s Cove, just north of James Bay. Once up and out from our cabins this morning, we have the choice of kayaking, walking along Espumilla Beach, or a stretch session on the Sun Deck before breakfast.

We find ourselves here in contrasts quite apart from the cove’s earlier history, at a time when pirates and whalers would hunt tortoises and gather drinking water. A presence that brought with it the introduction of rats that would become an invasive and hindering species to the island’s ecosystem and native wildlife. Santiago no longer contains the goats, pigs, and donkeys previously introduced. And a series of conservation efforts enacted has put this space well on the path to restoration and in a state more closely resembling the health prior to the arrival of its earliest visitors.

In the afternoon, we visit Puerto Egas, where we walked along the shore to spot marine iguanas, shore birds, and multiple varieties of sea lion. The fur seals occupy a grotto of solidified lava, where a complex of large eroded channels form arches and bridges to wander among.

We return to National Geographic Islander, seated along the Sun Deck. A meal of barbeque and Ecuadorian accents does plenty to conclude this most memorable day on Santiago Island.

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About the Author

Fabian Bucheli


Fabian Bucheli studied at the German School in Quito, graduated from the University of California with a bachelor of science in administration, and earned a master’s degree in international management from Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona. He has studied in Germany, France, Belgium, and Austria and is fluent in German, French, English, and Spanish. He has always been in love with nature and conservation. Explaining abstract concepts became second nature as a teaching assistant in biodiversity and evolution (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) while working towards a PhD in environmental risk management.

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