We started our day with a beautiful sunrise and a stretching session with our wellness specialist, followed by a very nutritious breakfast prepared by our wonderful team of cooks. Today was an exciting day as we went to visit a very different ecosystem that our guests had not seen or experienced before. We explored the humid highlands in Santa Cruz Island, the most central island in the archipelago and the island with the largest human population. After disembarkation, our Zodiacs took us to the Itabaca Channel, a very narrow and shallow area that divides Santa Cruz from Baltra Island. Several buses were waiting for us so we could start our morning adventure. The ride was not long, only about 40 minutes, and it flew by as we enjoyed the scenery of the diverse vegetation zones of the island. After arriving at the ranch and putting on our rubber boots, we were ready to find those giants, the Galapagos giant tortoises. The naturalists shared their ample knowledge about these ancient and iconic animals. Then we enjoyed a delicious lunch prepared by our cooks and the Manzanillo Ranch team. After a relaxing time, we boarded buses to return to our wonderful floating hotel. We enjoyed a naturalist’s presentation on the oceanography of the Galapagos Islands. Our day was not over yet; it was now time to explore the pristine white sandy beach of Bachas, located in the north of Santa Cruz. Our guests enjoyed the soft sand, warm sun, and lots of wildlife sightings, including some Galapagos flamingos. After relaxing and bathing in the sea, we came back to National Geographic Endeavour II and listened to our recap session and a briefing for the next day’s activities. What a day!
National Geographic Endeavour II
Today was our last day in the middle of the archipelago before we embark on a journey to the western realm! We visited North Seymour Island in the morning and Rabida in the afternoon. North Seymour Island’s uplifted geology has made the island a bird magnet location. This island is home to magnificent and great frigatebirds, swallow-tailed gulls, and blue-footed boobies. Birds are not the only ones on the island, though. There are also sea lions and two of the most common reptiles found in the Galapagos: land iguanas and lava lizards. As we walked along the trail on North Seymour, we were very fortunate to spot all the species listed. It was amazing to see them right along the trail as they fed their babies, took a nap, or just explored the curious humans that admired them in turn. This is the beauty of the Galapagos: animals behave as if we are not there, which is known as ecological naivety. In the afternoon, we ventured into the ocean for our first snorkeling session. We ended the day by walking along Rabida Island, also known as the red island due to a large amount of iron oxide, which makes this island red in color. One of the highlights of our day was seeing flamingos nesting at the lagoon on Rabida Island. This has not happened in the last 30 years since the lagoon composition changed due to weather events like El Niño. To our surprise and joy, the lagoon has recovered, allowing brine shrimp to return and flamingos to nest again. The Galapagos Islands are always full of surprises, and today we got to see many!