National Geographic Islander
After an overnight navigation that took us to the easternmost island of the Galapagos Archipelago, we set out early in the morning to explore Española Island. The eager kayakers enjoyed cool conditions and saw much wildlife, as they paddled along the rocky coast of the island. After breakfast, three Zodiacs with guides Lynn, Gaby and Gianna, went snorkeling below the cliffs of a small islet called Gardner. We spotted fish of a dozen species, a tiger snake eel, a sea turtle, and we admired the colorful and plentiful invertebrates on the rocks, but best of all we were entertained by an unruly gang of juvenile sea lions! They pulled on our flippers, dove and twirled around us, and blew bubbles in our faces. What fun! Then, we joined Vanessa and Paola on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world … without a hotel on it! Gorgeous light, brilliant fine white sand, and close contact with peaceful sea lions. Captain Cifuentes moved and re-anchored the ship after lunch to the western point of Española. Here we had the choice of hiking on a long rocky loop trail, taking a shorter hike, or a Zodiac cruise. We were all delighted with our outings, and everyone saw the elegant waved albatross. In the water there were more sea turtles and barking male sea lions on patrol. On shore there were nesting blue-footed boobies, piles of marine iguanas, many sea lions (including both tiny babies and some really huge territorial males), and the large lava lizards endemic to this island. But the albatross, the fluffy feather-duster albatross chicks, the pairs of bobbing and clacking dancing birds, and the ones we watched take flight into the strong breeze off spectacular high cliffs – these are images that we will not soon forget.