This week our field staff sent us a multisensory feast, whether they were photographing musicians in Belize, a red sand beach during golden hour in the Galápagos Islands, or a colony of gentoo penguins in Antarctica.
Thanks to its high elevation, Santa Cruz Island has a variety of vegetation zones. Today, we landed on the north side of the island and boarded buses that took us through the humid zone. We visited El Manzanillo Ranch, located within the farming zone of Santa Cruz. We admired the size of the giant tortoises, an endemic species. These amazing creatures prefer the south end of the island with its abundant vegetation and suitable nesting grounds. Upon returning to National Geographic Endeavour II , we weighed anchor and navigated towards Bowditch Bay. This isolated and stunning beach has white sand and turquoise water. It is the perfect location to swim, snorkel, enjoy a stretching session or simply relax.
We started our day in beautiful Baja with a morning stretch led by our wellness specialist, Allison. We enjoyed the pink and orange sunrise while we took deep breaths and stretched our muscles. After a delicious breakfast, our panga drivers arrived. We gathered our windbreakers, rain pants and dry bags before heading out for our first whale-watching experience in the mouth of Almejas Bay. On the way, our panga drivers took us to a spot were cormorants gather in great numbers. It was nice to see the yellowish heads of male brown pelicans in between the hundreds of cormorants. “Whale spout! Spy hop! Breach! Another spy hop! ANOTHER!” These are the phrases we kept repeating during our whale adventure. The wind picked up, but that did not stop us from enjoying the gray whales. After lunch, we headed to Scorpion Beach for a desert walk. On shore, we observed different species of clams, scallops and snails. We also saw the carcasses of fish, birds and turtles. Our naturalist, photo instructor and plant expert, Linda, shared her knowledge about the great adaptations of desert plants while we hiked on Santa Margarita Island. We enjoyed some margaritas while our crew set up a great dinner on the beach. Guests enjoyed time relaxing on the beach, walking a bit or gathering around the fire. For a special treat, we had s’mores! When night hit, it was time to go back to National Geographic Sea Lion to recharge our batteries. Another adventure awaits…
Morning at Gold Harbour was a wildlife extravaganza. A tonnage of elephant seals rested on the beach. Their deep-throated bass notes accented the calm breath of the surf. King penguins in all stages of development proudly strutted in their shimmering plumage. Fur seals entertained everyone before falling asleep. The scene was a feast for the eyes and ears of those who long for wilderness. During the afternoon, Zodiac tours on Cooper Bay brought sights of macaroni penguins, leopard seals and even a leucistic fur seal. The rare blonde fur seal played along just like all of the other seals, unaware of its famous status. After dinner, we cruised through Drygalski Fjord and observed its tidewater glacier. The glacier dropped a huge bit of ice as we watched. Thus another ‘over the top’ day ended on our Epic Antarctic Journey.
Santiago Island is special to Lindblad Expeditions, as it is our adopted island. Years ago, the island was overrun by invasive species, like goats, pigs, donkeys and many others! We adopted Santiago Island to support the conservation and restoration of its ecosystems. Today’s results are amazing! The island is once again a paradise for giant tortoises. Thanks to the restoration program, even the iguanas that Charles Darwin saw on his visit are back. In the early hours of the morning, we landed on Espumilla Beach for exploration. This was possibly the best morning of the trip, as this place is a breeding ground for Pacific green sea turtles. The turtles come by the thousands year after year to nest in the Galapagos Islands. Pelicans nest in the mangrove forest, and Galapagos hawks perch in trees. What a paradise for wildlife! We explored Buccaneer Cove after breakfast, where we went kayaking and deep water snorkeling. This was an opportunity to get to know more about the human aspect in the history of the Galapagos. Pirates, whale hunters, seal hunters and Charles Darwin himself visited this place! In the afternoon, we landed at Puerto Egas. Here, we had a couple of options for exploration. Some guests took a hike along the shore of Santiago Island, which was amazing due to the abundance of wildlife. Guests saw sea lions, crabs, iguanas and seabirds. Other guests snorkeled in the shallow reefs. When you land, you can find the ruins of a human settlement left by salt miners that inhabited this bay back in the 1950s. Today, the Galapagos National Park Service protects and manages Santiago Island. What an amazing opportunity to visit Santiago Island, and I can say it was another day in paradise!
This morning, National Geographic Islander anchored in Urbina Bay at the foot of Alcedo Volcano on the west coast of Isabela Island. After a wet landing, we took a trail inland to see Galapagos land iguanas and giant tortoises. We spotted quite a variety of endemic land birds, among them finches and mockingbirds. We also had the opportunity to see the coral reef exposed due to the uplifting of this area in 1854. After the hike, we went to the beach to enjoy the refreshing waters found west of the archipelago. In the afternoon, we enjoyed kayaking and paddleboarding in Tagus Cove. Very calm conditions allowed us to get close to the wildlife. We also went snorkeling. The water was mostly clear and full of activity. The main attractions were the reefs, sea turtles and schools of different species of fish. After this, we went for a hike to see Darwin’s Lake and the beautiful landscape of the north profile of Isabela Island. Some of us went for a Zodiac ride along the coast and spotted many Galapagos penguins and flightless cormorants. The various geological features were amazing.
Joining us on any expedition means signing up for adventure; and the reward for your curiosity is inevitable—the most exhilarating experience of pure discovery possible.