Isabela Island

Nov 12, 2019 - National Geographic Endeavour II

This morning we are at Isabela, which is the largest island of the Galapagos. It covers more than half of the territory and is made up of six shield volcanoes, five of them very active and young.

Isabela has so many interesting places to visit; one of them is Urbina Bay, located right in the belly of the seahorse-shaped island. After breakfast, we were ready to set foot on this place to enjoy its wonderful flora and fauna. We landed on a black sandy beach and immediately ventured inland where most of the animals are living.  Our predictions about the giant tortoises were right, they were in many places and we were able to spot them throughout nearly the whole hike. We saw some that were very large and others that were quite small.

The adventure continued and this time we met the other gentle inhabitants of the area, the mini dinosaur-looking creatures: the Galapagos land iguanas! They are plentiful around here, especially after the removal of some of their competitors like feral goats and others. The short hike and the long hike both offered almost equal sightseeing opportunities, with the long option providing additional exercise.

An incredible number of finches showed up to make it even more enjoyable to learn about Darwin and his footsteps in Galapagos. In addition, we spotted other kinds of birds like mockingbirds, flycatchers, anise, and yellow warblers.

By the middle of the trail, we found something quite unusual. There were vestiges of pieces of coral, sea worms and shells, that were lifted up by tectonic activity in 1954. The evidence of the sudden event are still seen scattered around the perimeter, like sea urchins, turtle bones, shells of all kinds and shapes, and barnacles, just to mention a few! Their presence confirms the magnitude of the event. The hike ends in a place where guests can take a quick, refreshing dip in the blue ocean.

After a great morning, we came back to National Geographic Endeavour by lunchtime to recover our energy with an amazing Ecuadorian lunch buffet.

In the afternoon, we arrived to a place called Tagus Cove for some additional activities like kayaking or paddle boarding for some, and snorkeling for others, all of them enjoyable with such a great amount of wildlife here and there, like penguins, cormorants, sea turtles, fishes, and more.

After this concluded we announced two options, one is for a power hike to visit Darwin Lake, surrounded by incredible vegetation as well as geology. Others could take a more leisurely Zodiac ride to see and photograph wildlife.

The sunset was incredible; it was another wonderful day on the western side of the Galapagos.

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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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