We left the new islands behind us and navigated towards the central part of the archipelago again today. Our next destination is Santiago Island. This is a special island for different reasons. There are many different ecosystems here. Santiago has highlands, which are home to unique species such as the endemic rat or the emblematic giant tortoise. The lowlands are decorated with the most amazing volcanic landscapes.
This is also an iconic Island for conservation. The Galapagos National Park was able to eradicate pigs and goats from the island, looking for the restoration of the ecosystem. This is also a Lindblad adopted island. During the past several years, Lindblad has been fundraising money to donate to the projects being run here.
We visited our island early, and our first stop was Espumilla Beach. This brown beach is a nesting area for the Pacific sea turtle. it is also home for many land birds such as the Galapagos flycatcher, different species of Darwin finches, the Galapagos dove, and the majestic Galapagos hawk.
Some of us decided to explore the area in our kayaks. It was a great way to approach nature. While paddling we observed many sea birds in the area, as well as sea turtles coming to the surface to breathe.
Then we all moved to Buccaneer’s Cove, a famous anchorage area for pirates in the 1800’s. There we either explored the shores with our Zodiacs or went snorkeling. Both of the activities very rewarding! The snorkelers were able to swim with sharks and even a zebra moray eel!
In the afternoon we visited Puerto Egas. Santiago Island had some commercial activity while hosting a salt mine here for many years, and some of the machinery is still in place. The ruins of the old mines decorate, with some nostalgia, an amazing visitor site. We walked on the area to find lava tubes and new lava fields that welcome several shorebirds. Fur seals get protection from the sun by living in the area of the lava tubes known as “the Grotos”. Marine iguanas were basking close to the tide pools. A new mother Galapagos sea lion was cleaning her new baby at a couple of feet of distance from us, as well.
What an experience we had! Coming back to the ship we got another highlight—a barbeque dinner on the sundeck! With a sky covered with stars, with delicious food and good wine, we leave Santiago Island towards our next adventure—Santa Cruz.