San Salvador Island deserves many hours of exploration, and vast words to expose its importance as a successful conservation program. Therefore, we ventured into different sites along its western coast, each one with its distinctive geology, plants, and animals.
Bottlenose dolphins greeted us first. A group of about a dozen approached the Zodiac heading towards Espumilla Bay, and of course, we forgot about the planned landing in order to play with them. One has to enjoy the very moment as it comes! The pod stayed for a few minutes, and then let us continue to our activities on land.
We hiked to a wonderful viewpoint to enjoy the shallow rays of the early morning sun brightening the northern volcanoes of Isabela Island and making the holy tree forest of Santiago glow in golden colors. The top predator of the Galapagos, the Galapagos hawk, landed on one of the tallest mangroves of the beach, while heads of green sea turtles popped up in the bay. In the meantime, kayakers were paddling along the cliffs of compacted ash. It did not matter the option, we all got our private moment to commune with nature.
We repositioned the ship after breakfast, to Buccaneer’s Cove. We offered Zodiac rides and more kayaking. This area was once an anchorage site for buccaneers in the late sixteen hundreds and early seventeen hundreds, and one can still witness their impact on the island. They introduced goats and pigs, and their numbers increased to the thousands. Iguanas ended up disappearing from San Salvador, and there were less than 1,000 giant tortoises by 1997. However, today the island is free of both goats and pigs, and more than 2,000 land iguanas have been repatriated back to the island. Meanwhile, giant tortoises thrive without having to compete with any introduced herbivores. This is thanks to the Galapagos National Park, Charles Darwin Research Station, and Island Conservation (Grantees of Lindblad-National Geographic). Lindblad Expeditions adopted the island in 1997, and it is very close to our hearts.
We snorkeled at Buccaneer’s Cove to encounter white-tipped reef sharks among colorful fish. The afternoon found us at Puerto Egas, for an amazing hike at low tide. There were abundant tidal pools to explore, the lava flows had sunbathing marine iguanas and sea lions enjoying the last rays of light. San Salvador Island was at its best today.