Overnight we sailed over 80 nautical miles, to get to the most mysterious and fascinating part of the Galapagos Archipelago, the geologically young western islands. Still actively being fed by the Galapagos mantle plume, signs of their young age are everywhere as we hike over lava flows and cruise along volcanic structures of different origins. Situated at the edge of the Galapagos Platform, this area is also where the cold, productive waters of the Equatorial Undercurrent upwell, bringing an abundance of marine life to the area, much of which was seen during our sailing, Zodiac riding and snorkeling activities.
National Geographic Islander
We started the day by visiting South Plaza Island, one of the small islands around Santa Cruz Island. We found sea lions to welcome us as well as a few pairs of swallow-tailed gulls nesting on the ground. Galapagos land iguanas were very abundant along the trail, mainly where prickly pear cactuses offered ripe fruit to the reptiles. We also observed a few of the iconic seabirds found on these islands, such as blue-footed boobies, frigatebirds, and Galapagos shearwaters. In the afternoon, we went snorkeling along the coast of Santa Fe Island. Guests were excited to observe many species of colorful fish, such as parrotfish, king angelfish, razor surgeonfish, and whitetip reef sharks. Right after snorkeling, we disembarked to visit Santa Fe. Our main goal was to find Santa Fe land iguanas, a species endemic to this island only. After accomplishing our goal, we went to see a large sea lion colony basking on the sandy beach at Santa Fe.