National Geographic Endeavour II
Santa Cruz Island
Our plan for the day was to explore the northern shores of the island, hoping to encounter wild Galapagos land iguanas. In the afternoon, we planned to explore the underwater world at the Guy Fawkes Islet and then finish our day sailing around the famous Daphne Major. After an early breakfast we set off to our disembarkation point at Cerro Dragon. After a walk of about a hundred yards along the shoreline, we went inland to explore a deciduous Palo Santo forest. It seemed that the very first rain of the season had fallen a mere few days ago, as the trees were starting to produce new green shoots. The new sprouting vegetation is an important food source for the local land iguanas, so we were lucky to see many Land Iguanas grazing just after coming out of their burrows. Large males seem to be getting more colorful than usual, as the mating season is about to start. After enjoying the incredible photo opportunities of the morning’s excursion, we headed back to the shore to take our zodiacs back to the ship. Once on board, we got ready to explore the underwater world, either by swimming and snorkeling from a beach or by snorkeling at the nearby Guy Fawkes Islet, which proved to be one of the best snorkeling outings we had so far during this expedition. Several of our guests had the opportunity to interact with the local sea lion pups, as myriads small fish swarmed in the shallows, while some other guests had the chance to see white-tipped reef sharks and a larger Galapagos shark. Once back on board, we enjoyed a typical Ecuadorian lunch as our ship heaved anchor to take us out to sea. As we closed down on Daphne Major, naturalist Fabio Buchelli gave a talk on Charles Darwin and his visit to the Galapagos Archipelago. As sunset drew close we gathered at the sundeck for a wine tasting while expedition leader Paula Tagle told us about the unique circumstances and results of Peter and Rosemary Grant’s research on this tiny speck of land. As I write these last lines, guests gather at the lounge to learn about what new and exciting experiences a new day will bring us. Last night, the National Geographic Endeavour II heaved anchor just past midnight to sail around the east coast of Santa Cruz Island to its northern shores. This morning as first light broke our ship rode anchor gently in the protected waters of the northern coast.