Today was our first landing on one of the most interesting little islands of the archipelago. We had a pre-breakfast wakeup call and started our excursion for the hike to Bartolome, nearly four hundred steps uphill, with the goal to get to one of the most famous landscapes of the Galapagos, while learning about geology and pioneer plants on a volcanic island.
After breakfast we went to the beach in order to prepare for the deep-water snorkel, and some Galapagos penguins were swimming around all of us! This encouraged us to go to visit another spot where we ended up swimming with different species of fish, two huge marble rays, lots of starfish…so many that it seemed like we were stargazing underwater. It was also amazing to have the opportunity to experience two Galapagos penguins fishing and swimming very fast for about thirty minutes, right in front of our eyes. Snorkeling was definitely the highlight of the day!
We had a delicious local lunch with produce harvested from farms on Santa Cruz Island.
The afternoon followed with another snorkel outing around one of the islets of Guy Fawkes, and a couple of Zodiac rides in the same area surrounded with local wildlife.
Late in the afternoon, we went for a hike to Cerro Dragon, which is an area in the dry zone where we walked through endemic and native vegetation characteristic in this ecosystem, such as incense trees (or palo santo), Darwin cotton, spiny bush, and more. We had to look for the one and only Galapagos land iguana, and we spotted several individuals of this endemic species very close to their burrows, which serve as nesting sites and resting places. They were difficult to see, because they camouflage very well with the landscape. There was an amazing sunset on the way back to the ship.