Santiago Island

Mar 04, 2020 - National Geographic Endeavour II

Today, our visit started very early. We arrived on Espumilla Beach, located on Santiago Island. Santiago Island is an interesting island where pirates, buccaneers and whalers arrived to obtain fresh water for their next voyages. After a wet landing, we began our relaxed stroll on a shiny, brown beach composed of ashes and vitreous material from volcanic eruptions thousands of years ago. Between the intertidal and coastal zone, we walked into several mangrove patches until reaching salt ponds. On our trail walk, we spotted some species of Darwin finches and curious Galapagos flycatchers.

After breakfast, we visited one of the most iconic places of Santiago Island, Buccaneer Cove, where Charles Darwin anchored in 1935. During our activities of kayaking and snorkeling, we saw juvenile sea lions swimming playfully near the shore. At the same time, we were delighted by the contrasting colors of the Santiago Island hills, where the Palo Santo forest was showing new green leaves as result of rainy season influence.

Our last visit was Egas Port, where there is an abandoned salt mining facility located on the cliff of this calm bay. When our Zodiac arrived, we observed eroded tuff cones on the coastline. Near our trail, some frigate birds were perching on the old lighthouse on the island. Meanwhile, we identified interesting plants on this coast, such as beach morning glory and yellow cordia.

At the end of this trail, we found old lava tubes that are now collapsed by erosive effects of wind and waves, transforming into natural lava pools. Those formations are called “the grottos,” which are perfect shelters for endemic Galapagos fur seals. This day ended with a relaxed walk on the sandy beach while observing the dynamics of the intertidal ecosystem. At the same time, we were following in the footsteps of Charles Darwin when he arrived in 1835.

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About the Author

Victor Rueda


Victor spent his first years of childhood in Puerto Ayora, Galápagos, a perfect place to grow up alongside nature. His family settled on the islands in 1905, living as farmers and fishermen. When he was six years old, Victor spent time at the docks observing and identifying fish with an old book of marine animals. Those daily activities enhanced his interest in studying life sciences. He moved to the mainland of Ecuador for his studies, visiting Galápagos on holidays and never ceasing to admire the beauty of his home.

About the Photographer

Jonathan Aguas

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Jonathan was born into one of only a handful of families that reaches back five generations in Galápagos, in the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, on San Cristobal Island. He first left the islands when he won a highly-coveted scholarship to finish his studies in the U.S.  This was the start of his life-long passion for science and languages. He earned a bachelor’s degree in integrative biology from the University of Florida and later spent time in Europe, where he learned French. He is now fluent in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish.

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