Our first journey into the Galapagos National Park brought us to Española Island, one of the oldest islands in the archipelago with an incredible diversity of life. Turquoise waters surround the small satellite islands of Española, and we explored a fine coralline sand beach with resident Galapagos sea lions and Española mockingbirds flitting about. While snorkeling, we caught glimpses of Pacific green sea turtles, diamond stingrays, and young Galapagos sea lion pups. It was a great view of the undersea world. During the afternoon, we made a short navigation and arrived at Suarez Point. While hiking, we got close to waved albatrosses, a majestic species that is only found on this island. Numerous albatrosses were seen floating offshore while Nazca boobies lined the southern cliffs of Española. Marine iguanas returned from foraging in the sea, and young sea lions played in the shallows as they awaited the return of their mothers. The sun dipped below the horizon as the last birds returned to their roosts on the coast.
National Geographic Endeavour II
This morning, we explored the northern side of Santa Cruz Island, and our first outing took us to see the Galapagos dragons. This land iguana inhabits the palo santo dry forest. As soon as we disembarked, marine iguanas greeted us as they sunbathed on the Sesuvium carpetweed found along the shoreline. We walked along the trail and found a brackish water lagoon that is usually visited by birds like white-cheeked pintail ducks, black-necked stilts, and sometimes flamingos. Later, we passed through the dry forest of palo santo and breathed in its fragrant aroma as we headed to observe the eroded volcanic ash on the trail. Land iguanas are endemic to this archipelago and can be found nesting in the area or just relaxing under a prickly pear cactus tree. We saw a spectacular number of iguanas, counting twenty during our walk. The bright colors of the iguanas make them a very exciting sight, which our guests enjoyed very much. Later in the afternoon, our younger explorers took Zodiac driving lessons in the company of their parents and a naturalist guide. It was the highlight of the day for them. The rest of our guests opted between getting some exercise while kayaking along the shoreline of Borrero Bay or simply took it slower and joined a Zodiac tour in the area. During the afternoon, we observed big flocks of blue-footed boobies, which are not often seen in high numbers. We also observed brown pelicans, striated herons, baby blacktip sharks, a small eagle ray, and lava gulls. We ended our day by enjoying a glass of wine while circumnavigating Daphne Major and observing the stunning sunset.