After an excellent stretching session with Hilda on the observation deck, we headed to North Seymour Island, a paradise for bird enthusiasts. Upon arrival, we were greeted by the endemic swallow-tailed gull and friendly Galápagos sea lions. Just meters into our hike, we saw a newborn sea lion pup! We hardly knew where to point our cameras (or where to place our feet on the trail) as we were surrounded by nests and by adult and juvenile species of magnificent frigatebirds, great frigatebirds, and blue-footed boobies.
After a delicious Andean lunch hosted by Juan Sebastián, we arrived to the vibrant Mars-red Rábida Island. Some adventurers opted to snorkel from the beach and saw playful sea lions, parrotfish, razor surgeonfish, and schools of small fish. Others chose to deep-water snorkel along the island’s steep cliff walls and encountered a white-tipped reef shark, a plethora of tropical fish, giant sea stars, octopus, a fur seal, coral, and sea anemone.
Once out of the water, we went on a long hike with naturalist Vanessa who led us among a cactus forest full of interesting birds, such as the Galápagos dove, Galápagos flycatcher, American flamingo, and the Galápagos mockingbird. We had the opportunity to practice new tips and tricks to improve our field photography during the ‘magic hour’ with photo experts José and Sócrates. As the sun set, we witnessed brown noddies diving for fish from atop brown pelicans while a bull sea lion swam back and forth, patrolling the shoreline.