Today was a wonderful day in the Galapagos Islands. We started early morning so we could enjoy the wildlife activity. After a delicious breakfast, we boarded the Zodiacs. Our first landing spot was a very small islet with many surprises. Yellow land iguanas were waiting for us at the landing area. We enjoyed discussing the habitat, behaviors, and interesting facts about the incredible reptiles, and we learned about their ecology. Swallow-tailed gulls were another highlight this morning. We spotted many breeding couples and enjoyed their friendly and tame behavior. We also observed sea lions and tropicbirds on our morning walk, and we enjoyed their sounds and colors. After our walk, we came back to the ship and set sail to a new island, Santa Fe. Our guests explored the island by kayak, and they also enjoyed the opportunity to snorkel. We observed many different species, including blue-footed boobies and playful sea lions, the stars of the show as they played in the water. For the rest of the afternoon, we went exploring by foot on a hike that took us through a prickly pear cactus and palo santo tree forest. Our goal was to find one of the unique species on this island: the Santa Fe land iguana. This species only lives here and is seen nowhere else in the world. The experience was complete after we saw their incredible feeding behavior. They mainly eat cactus on this island. We also observed a big colony of sea lions. They greeted us right at our landing! Finally, fast-moving lava lizards and even a Galapagos hawk were added to our list of wonders today!
National Geographic Islander II
Genovesa Island, located on the northern side of the archipelago, has a high concentration of marine birds. When National Geographic Islander II reached the central part of the caldera on the island, birds were starting their daily activities. We disembarked on a small, white sand beach in Darwin’s Bay (named as such even though Darwin never visited this site). As we walked along a sandy trail, we found frigates, swallow-tailed gulls, and red-footed boobies, among others. In the afternoon, we took a short hike to Prince Philip’s Steps. We were surprised to find a short-eared owl in the middle of the trail. This nocturnal bird has diurnal behavior on Genovesa, and they are not usually easy to spot. The owls mostly prey on storm petrels. As the density of marine birds is so high here, we observed more frigates, boobies, and even nesting red tropicbirds. After this great walk, the sunset was amazing. It was the perfect way to end our trip.