South Plaza and Santa Fe Islands

Jan 02, 2020 - National Geographic Islander


It’s been a wildlife-filled day! We anchored off South Plaza, a small piece of heaven near Santa Cruz, and quickly had our first sighting: a group of young sea lions guarded by a large dominant male playing on the landing jetty. A few minutes after we landed, we spotted a small flock of swallow-tailed gulls and some land iguanas sheltering underneath a cactus tree. The topographic highlight of the island is made up of colorful patches of carpet weed, with a cactus forest and land iguanas distributed throughout.

After our fun in South Plaza, we had time to swim and relax before navigating to our next destination, the charming island of Santa Fe. We explored the bay in different ways, either on kayaks, paddleboards, or Zodiacs. All options offered great wildlife spotting and scenic cliff views. In the late afternoon we traveled inland looking for the iconic Santa Fe land iguana. We found many among the cactus trees, which is unusual.

It's been a fantastic day filled with activities and a variety of sightings on these islands, each housing unique species and evoking unique emotions within us. The Galapagos Islands offers an extraordinary world for wildlife and visitors alike and quenches those thirsty for nature at its best.

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About the Author

Juan Carlos Avila

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Juan Carlos was born in Quito, Ecuador. He spent part of his elementary schooling in the province of Cotopaxi, a beautiful area in the Ecuadorian Andes ringed by volcanoes. In 1989 his family moved to the Galápagos and settled in the highlands of Santa Cruz, the second largest island in this archipelago. It was here that Juan Carlos finished high school and gained his deep love for nature.

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