Dragon Hill and Eden Islet

Nov 20, 2019 - National Geographic Endeavour II


This morning we woke up anchored on the northern part of Santa Cruz Island, the second largest island in the archipelago. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast and then off we went to Dragon Hill to start our daily expedition. The northern areas of the islands in the Galapagos are under the rain shadow effect, which is a dry area on the leeward side of the mountainous area (away from the wind). The mountains block the passage of rain, without much moisture left, which advances across the mountains creating a drier side called the “rain shadow.” That is what gives Dragon Hill this deserted aspect.

Dragon Hill is a tuff cone, which means compacted and pulverized ash. During our hike in this dramatic landscape we saw lots of endemic and native plants species, plus this place is the home and nesting site of many land iguanas (Conolophus subcristatus). We spotted a few of these individuals and learned about them and their different behaviors. At this moment, it’s not the nesting season, but when the time arrives we are going to find females running away from males, due to their aggressive behavior. A few months later the females will be searching for the best site to build their nest.

We came back on board and got ready for the water activities. Some of our guests went to the beach and others went all the way to Guy Fawkes Islets to enjoy deep water snorkeling. There, we saw lots of colorful fishes, some sharks, sea lions, and manta rays. Back on board we had an amazing Ecuadorian lunch with food from all the different regions of the country.

In the afternoon, we had a short navigation to Eden Islet for great kayaking and Zodiac rides where we spotted lots of marine birds, pacific green sea turtles, and beautiful scenery. What a great day we had!

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About the Author

Roberta Schiess

Naturalist

Born and raised in the Galápagos, Roberta Schiess Bahamonde’s grandparents were among the first permanent inhabitants of Santa Cruz Island, arriving from Switzerland in the 1940s. Her mother is also a naturalist guide in the Galápagos, so this is a profession she has been exposed to her whole life, and she often accompanied her mom as she guided visitors. 

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