Today our Galapagos exploration brought us, once again, to the center of the archipelago.  Santiago Island was our destination, and the best way to begin our journey was to take a pre-breakfast hike at Espumilla Beach.  The magnificence of the place was displayed in a combination of impressive mangrove trees and a charming brown sand beach.

One of the surprises of the visit was the presence of a greater flamingo feeding on little crustaceans.  Farther into the trail, the calling of different land birds sounded like a symphony of nature that made us feel that we were in paradise.  The biggest surprise was found once we reached the sandy area again, over forty baby sea turtles emerged to the surface and we watched them making their way into the sea before predators take them for breakfast. 

Once back on board the National Geographic Islander, we pulled anchor in order to reach Buccaneer Cove.  Deep water snorkeling was going to give us a great opportunity to explore the Galapagos Marine Reserve.  Once we got into the water, an underwater world was revealed to us.  White-tipped reef sharks, spotted eagle rays, and a fish feeding frenzy were going to make for a delightful snorkeling activity.  

In the afternoon James Bay was going to be our next destination.  After a comfortable wet landing, we started our hike into one of the most fascinating visitor sites: Puerto Egas.  The first stop point of the hike was found at the lava grottos, where the presence of Galapagos fur seals made us awe-inspired.  The coastal trail was enhanced with the presence of several shore bird species.  Marine iguanas were resting inside the tidal pools, and Galapagos sea lions enriched our visit as we reached the end of our journey.  The sun setting behind Isabela Island’s volcanoes made us thankful that tomorrow our journey continues in this living paradise.