Early this morning we arrived on the west coast of Isabela, the largest island of the Galapagos. The island was formed by six volcanoes, five of them still very active. Today we visited Urbina Bay, a magical place where you can find many vestiges of marine life from when this site was underwater. In late 1954, it rose a few meters above sea level, making it one of the newest uplifted areas in the world.
We had a wet landing on a black sandy beach made of basaltic material. Some of our intrepid guests put their shoes on and went for a long walk to explore the place. Their goal was to see an area covered by huge coral heads, and to explore the shoreline inhabited by marine iguanas, penguins, cormorants and other species that come to feed on the intertidal zone, which is very rich in food. We walked inland to find Alcedo giant tortoises, and many Galapagos land iguanas. This is also a great place to see many varieties of Darwin finches, each of the species presenting a different beak to get different kinds of food, such as small seeds, bigger seeds, insects, larvae, etc. Basically, we were seeing what Charles Darwin saw in 1835, during his five-week visit to the Galapagos Islands. After the walk, the beach was waiting for us and we were ready to cool off in the turquoise water that Galapagos offers before going back to the ship for lunch.
Our Captain lifted anchor and headed to the northern part of Isabela. Two hours later we arrived to Tagus Cove, a legendary place full of mystery and frequently visited by buccaneers, pirates, and intrepid sailors more than 300 years ago. We enjoyed many activities here. Kayaking along the cove was a spectacular way to observe penguins and cormorants basking on the rocks, blue-footed boobies resting on the cliffs, pelicans and brown noddies getting some fish in the cold, nutrient rich waters of this place.
Snorkeling was great, the water was full of plankton and marine wildlife, sharks and rays, sea stars and harlequin wrasses were seen everywhere. Later we walked uphill on a very invigorating hike to see the majestic landscape of the shield volcanoes forming Isabela Island. The scenery of Darwin Lake was astonishing, and a Zodiac ride along the shoreline was the perfect complement for a memorable day exploring these enchanted islands.