Puerto Ayora and Highlands, Santa Cruz Island, 5/31/2022, National Geographic Endeavour II
National Geographic Endeavour II
Guests onboard National Geographic Endeavour II spent the day exploring Santa Cruz Island. Santa Cruz has the highest population density of the ‘Enchanted Islands.’ In the morning, we landed in the beautiful town of Puerto Ayora. The highlight of our visit was the Charles Darwin Research Station’s museum, as well as the National Park’s rearing center. When our visit was over, naturalists and guests walked all the way to the fishermen’s market, a spot representative of Santa Cruz’s culture.
Next stop was the Trapiche Farm in the highlands, close to the town of Bellavista. Here guests learned more about the production processes for several organic products that grow in Galapagos. Our last destination of the day was Manzanillo Ranch. We had lunch and shared some time with Santa Cruz giant tortoises in their natural habitat.
Today was the second full day of our expedition, and we started activities very early to make the most of it. Right after sunrise, we boarded Zodiacs to explore a very interesting visitor site on Floreana Island. Here, a green sand beach was waiting for us. We learned about different types of sand and why the green color of this beach is so special. As we walked a little farther, we arrived at a brackish water lagoon. Flamingos are often observed here, but today was really special. We found nearly 80 flamingos feeding at the lagoon. This sighting was not only rare but also very exciting! We kept walking and arrived at a beach known as “the flour beach.” The beach has a particular type of sand that is not only white but very fine, like flour. Walking there was a pleasure. We encountered a sea turtle laying her eggs and covering them with sand. We observed diamond stingrays along the shoreline as we walked along the beach. Our next activity was an amazing deep-water snorkel. We observed many species of colorful fish along with one of the largest colonies of sea lions in the Galapagos. The afternoon was equally interesting, maybe even better! We had the opportunity to visit Post Office Bay, the location of the first mailing system on the islands. Long ago, sailors deposited their mail here, and it was collected by other ships passing through on their way back home. Nowadays, the mail system still works the same way. Postcards are dropped off and then picked up by future visitors, who follow the tradition by hand-delivering the mail once they make it home. After this exciting adventure, we enjoyed the clear and warm waters at the beach. Today was another great day in this little piece of heaven on earth.
Today was our first day in paradise, and we visited Española, the archipelago’s oldest island! We started the day at beautiful Gardner Beach, a white sand beach that is home to Galapagos sea lions. We spent the morning snorkeling to explore the underwater world. Our day ended with a beautiful hike at Punta Suarez, a site where visitors can observe many birds, marine iguanas, and sea lions. As we walked along Punta Suarez, we encountered young and playful sea lions, Nazca boobies nesting, and marine iguanas gathering in piles to conserve heat so they can survive the night. It was a fantastic day in this beautiful archipelago and the perfect start to a magical expedition ahead!
Today is our last day in paradise after an adventure that seems unreal. We are from different backgrounds, but we have bonded as one. The Galapagos brings magic to our souls and minds. From Fernandina to San Cristobal, the youngest and one of the oldest islands in the archipelago, we have been on an expedition, a journey of discovery through time. Today we landed on San Cristobal Island with its green olivine beach. The volcanic scenery we observed during our intense hike was spectacular. The peaks of tuff high in the sky make this site very unusual. It was different than what we observed on other islands and was a moment that will live in our hearts forever. Punta Pitt has impressive scenery from up above. We could immediately feel the heat and humidity. All our senses were heightened as we took in our surroundings while searching for red-footed boobies. We were lucky to see them up-close. Soon after, it was beach time. We played with sea lions and observed as they played with each other on the beach. We repositioned to Cerro Brujo for our last walk over a white sand beach, and we enjoyed the turquoise ocean and the sea lions. What a wonderful way to say goodbye to the Galapagos. Today was particularly special, and the ocean was magical. We boarded the ship at sunset and passed by Kicker Rock, an impressive and massive tuff formation along the shoreline. We are now together in the lounge celebrating life as frigatebirds fly nearby, like they are saying goodbye. Today is our last full day on the islands. We made it to the Galapagos, and it was not easy. We have a deep appreciation for the islands and were honored to enjoy this unforgettable experience. We hope to make a positive change in this wonderful world of ours. Our expedition is now over. Life goes on, but we know this place changes many lives, this place that can never be fully described. We all came from different backgrounds to share in a magic that will exist in our minds forever. “We must rethink our indoctrinated knowledge, the methodical saying ‘don’t humanize the animals’ and instead ‘animalize the human’ by perceiving our surroundings with all our senses; embracing nature with our true-spirit by coexistence and respect for one another, so we can become one with nature as we once were.” Celso Montalvo