On our first full day of this amazing expedition onboard National Geographic Islander, we stopped by South Plaza. Located on the east side of Santa Cruz Island, South Plaza is a 0.13km2 island that holds coastal and arid vegetation, mostly dominated by Opuntia cactus and Sesuvium. Along this 1 km walk, our guests enjoyed nice views from a 30 m cliff and sightings of the endemic land iguana. After an hour and a half of navigation, we anchored at Santa Fé Island. Here, we started with a snorkeling activity with sea lions, stingrays, and turtles! After a great snorkel, we concluded with a short walk along the island among some giant cacti and some unique pale land iguanas that are only found on Santa Fé.
National Geographic Islander II
The misty weather of the dry season covered the sky as our first activities started in the early morning. From the deck, we looked for marine mammals and enjoyed the magnificent volcanic landscape of the northern side of Isabela. We explored Vicente Roca in our Zodiacs as we traveled along the walls. Wildlife is very abundant on this site since the area is an upwelling zone. Marine birds and reptiles were the highlights of the morning. Blue-footed boobies, brown noddy terns, pelicans, Nazca boobies, marine iguanas, flightless cormorants, and penguins made our morning special. We then went snorkeling in the same area, an incredible site for sea turtles. In the afternoon, we visited Fernandina, the youngest island. The site is a nesting place for marine iguanas. Here they congregate in big numbers, so they were the stars of the afternoon. We hiked around an uplifted basaltic lava flow, and we spotted flightless cormorants, sea lions, and a beautiful Galapagos hawk. This site offers a view of La Cumbre, the huge volcano on the island. We could also see the volcanoes that form Isabela Island right across the channel. We were lucky to witness activity in one of the volcanoes today!