Today we woke up for an early pre-breakfast walk uphill to the top of Bartolome, a satellite islet of Santiago Island. This relatively new island is a good place to appreciate different geological formations such as tuff, spatter cones and basaltic flows. It was a pleasure for me to share my knowledge of geological formation of these islands with our local people. The presence of pioneer plants such as Tiquilia nesiotica and lava cactus makes Bartolome a good place to understand how life started in Galapagos after the first plants stablished on newly formed islands. We also had the chance to explore the underwater world of this place. Having fishermen from the community was an amazing experience as they started finding and pointing species of commercial interest, such as spiny lobsters and sea cucumbers. In the afternoon, we explored the island of Rabida, where one of the highlights were the flamingoes that we found in a lagoon, and sea lions resting at the beach during a beautiful sunset. We ended our day sharing “canelazos,” one of the main traditional drinks of Ecuador.
National Geographic Endeavour II
Today is giant tortoise day! We anchor in the northern part of Santa Cruz and start our day with a short Zodiac drive to the turquoise waters of Itabaca Channel. We drive up to the highlands of Santa Cruz Island, leaving behind the coastal zone vegetation and passing through dry forest before immersing ourselves in the humid zone, where everything is green. We stop at Los Gemelos, two volcanic craters surrounded by a scalesia forest. In this magical area we spot a variety of endemic birds and plants while learning about the geology of the island. Finally, we arrive in the luxuriant green highlands of Santa Cruz where we spot countless Galapagos tortoises. We spend all morning walking around these giants while we learn about their history, biology, and behavior as they roam peacefully in their natural habitat. These enormous creatures are truly fascinating to observe, which some of us did while sitting under a tree, painting, taking pictures, or chilling in a hammock. The giant tortoises are everywhere, and we spot dozens of them from the restaurant where we have lunch. On our way back, a flock of blue-footed boobies flies overhead, making us feel we are inside a nature documentary! We cap off this amazing day with a sunset walk on the beach before returning to the National Geographic Endeavour II .