Urbina Bay & Tagus Cove

Nov 26, 2019 - National Geographic Endeavour II

This morning we are at the west coast of Isabela, which is made up of six shield volcanoes, five of which are very active—the last volcanic eruption occurred a year and a half ago. After breakfast, we went to explore Urbina Bay. As the Zodiacs pulled onto the beach, the early morning sun was casting beautiful light onto the landscape, perfect for photography. Donning our hiking shoes and leaving the sand behind, we took to a trail that led us inland into dense vegetation, including many poison apple trees and yellow cotton flower bushes. We quickly spotted a big land iguana, calmly resting on the side of the path. Throughout the morning, we saw a couple of giant tortoises, all of which were adult males with dome-shaped shells. We also came across yellow-colored vegetation such as cordias, cottons and palo santo trees, as well as several insects that pollinize flowers in Galapagos. Underfoot we were able to find evidence of the sea uprising that occurred in the 1950s that brought what was once ocean floor to the surface. After our walk, we returned to the black beach to cool off in the warm water.

We returned to the ship for an afternoon of talks and activities punctuated by a delicious Ecuadorian buffet for lunch. Just before sunset, many chose to hike to the hill overlooking Darwin’s volcano. Others went to kayak along the bay of Tagus, and our intrepid guests went to snorkel in search of penguins, flightless cormorants and horn sharks.

Later, after disembarking from the Zodiacs, we examined the graffiti along the walls of Tagus Cove and saw the hand of man on the islands. We then began a hike that quickly gained elevation, taking us through a forest of bare palo santo trees to a few viewpoints that overlooked Darwin’s lake and the ship in the bay.

At the summit we were rewarded with a splendid view of Darwin’s volcano in golden light. We turned back towards the ship, racing the setting sun and watching the trees on the highest hills glow red in the fading light. Just as the day began bathed in beautiful sunlight, so the day came to a close. It was a perfect ending to another astonishing day in the Galapagos Islands.

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About the Author

Christian Saa

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Christian was born on the island of Isabela in the Galápagos archipelago. He grew up on a farm and had a magical childhood devoid of cars, electricity, telephones—just pure nature and playful sea lions along the beach. At the age of seven, he moved with his family to Santa Cruz Island, the economic hub of the Galápagos Islands. His father began to work in tourism and took Christian around the islands during school vacations. It was during this time that Christian learned to love and understand the real value of this unique archipelago, and he decided to devote his life to its stewardship. A lifelong passion for nature and its creatures took root in his heart, and he eventually decided to become a naturalist, which he has now been doing for 18 years now.

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