Daily Expedition Reports

Daily reports from our days in the field

  • Genovesa Island

    Located on the northern hemisphere, Genovesa is one of the most incredible islands in the archipelago, due to it is home to over a million birds and because long time ago it was an active volcano with a large caldera, far from the central islands and far from the underwater Galapagos platform. This particularity could be the reason that land reptiles never arrived at the island, being impossible to find neither lava lizards nor land iguanas here.

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  • Sombrero Chino and Sullivan Bay

    Early in the morning National Geographic Islander drops anchors in the turquoise waters near Bainbridge Islands around the corner of Sombrero Chino, an eroded spatter cone formed hundreds of thousands of years ago by a side vent of James Island.

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  • South Plaza and Santa Fe Islands

    After a day full of surprises among tortoise civilization and observations in their natural habitat, we moved east to two different locations. South Plaza is located on the east coast of Santa Cruz and has a completely different ecosystem than the islands previously seen; although the landscape looks barren and rocky, this island is home one of the land iguanas specie, the Conolophus subscristatus. After breakfast we headed on Zodiacs to dry land, when in the distance, two whales swam indifferently close to National Geographic Islander. We approached and identified a female humpback whale and her calf. The swimming display was spectacular, moving its caudal tail vertically, splashing water, or showing us the white underparts when jumping. This event was the delight of our guests, who took pictures or videos of the spectacular sea mammals.

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  • Bartolome & Sombrero Chino

    Today we explored Bartolome and Sombrero Chino Islets, which are remarkably beautiful with an impressive landscape. During the morning we hiked and snorkeled in Bartolome. For the afternoon we moved to Sombrero Chino, where our guests got the chance to snorkel for the second time in the day, and then go on Zodiac rides at the end of the afternoon.

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  • Santa Cruz Island

    Today we spent the day exploring the island of Santa Cruz. We awoke with the ship rolling in a slight swell as she swung on her anchor and chain in Academy Bay off the town of Puerto Ayora. This is the largest settlement in the archipelago and is home to about 20,000 inhabitants, and to the headquarters of both the Galapagos National Park Service and the Charles Darwin Research Station.

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  • Santa Cruz

    Today we woke up anchored on the northwest part of Santa Cruz, the second largest island of the archipelago. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast and then went to Dragon Hill to start our daily exploration. Dragon Hill is a tuff cone, which means compacted and pulverized ash. Our hike was in a dramatic landscape, even though it’s the desert there are many endemic and native plants species. In addition, this place is the home and nesting site of many land iguanas (Conolophus subcristatus); we spotted more than a dozen of these individuals and learned about them and their different behaviors.

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  • Santa Cruz Islands

    Today we arrived at Santa Cruz Island on a clear morning, a welcome break from the cool temperatures and partly rainy weather of the last two days. In the morning we went to the Galapagos National Park and the Charles Darwin Foundation where we were able to see giant tortoises – really old ones! It was fascinating to learn about how the breeding program works and the great job that the Galapagos National Park Service is doing in this amazing archipelago. The museum had an incredible collection the different animals and plants of the Galapagos Islands.

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  • Floreana Island

    This morning we had a pre-breakfast outing, great for early risers and photography enthusiasts wishing to capture the best light of the day. Our welcoming party was a small colony of sea lions and some nesting blue-footed boobies on a green-olivine beach in Punta Cormorant, and as we continued along our trail we observed an active nesting sea turtle site as well as a lagoon where we found flamingos for the first time. These birds are a recent arrival to the Galapagos and have made themselves permanent residents of this archipelago.

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  • Punta Pitt, San Cristobal Island

    After we sailed through the night to San Cristobal Island, we anchored on the Bay of Punta Pitt, the most northeastern point of the Galapagos National Park.

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  • Espanola Island

    Located in the southeast portion of the Galapagos, Espanola is considered the oldest island in the archipelago. It has no active volcanoes or freshwater but houses exuberant fauna. Early in the morning, with a calm sea and a cool breeze we set for our day of exploration. We kayaked along the shore of Espanola Island and enjoyed the incredible landscape this location has to offer. Sea turtles were everywhere, and the ocean was so clear that it was possible to observe them resting on the ocean floor like floating rocks. Blue-footed boobies and frigatebirds flew overhead looking for fish, taking full advantage of the ocean conditions. After breakfast the sun appeared to warm up the waters – right on time for our next snorkeling activity. As soon we got into the water, more than 15 juvenile Galapagos sea lions approached, giving us an “official welcome” to Gardner Bay. They were our curious companions during the entire snorkeling session. It was amazing to play with them, making bubbles, swimming further down, or imitating their movements. Some sea lions advanced quickly to then jump over our heads! It was a great experience for everyone. Afterward we headed to the white beach of Gardner Bay where we observed mockingbirds and their fearless interaction with our guests. We also saw lava lizards walking on the sea lions’ bodies, trying to catch insects to feed on. All the while, the top predator of the archipelago, the Galapagos hawk flew close to the nearby rocks looking for marine iguana.

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