We are getting closer to the end of an awesome and unforgettable week in the Enchanted Islands of the Galapagos. We anchored early in the morning at “La Tranca,” a stop for many liveaboard yachts and boats near the Itabaca Channel. After a ten-minute Zodiac ride, we boarded a bus for Manzanillo Ranch, a productive and privately owned farm. As we traveled south, we had the chance to appreciate drastic changes in vegetation. We moved from a coastal, arid zone to a more humid, mist-covered one dominated by Scalesia trees, which are endemic to the Galápagos. Santa Cruz is the only island with six delineated vegetative zones. We noticed the contrast of natural and agricultural land. Finally, we came across the famous giant tortoises! We observed a wide-range of ages, and we were amazed by the tortoises’ appearance. We learned about their lifestyle, their natural history on the islands, their ecological importance, and their interactions with humans. We enjoyed a presentation on the human history of the Galápagos Islands by Omar. Back onboard National Geographic Endeavour II, we headed to Bowditch Bay for some time on the beach.
National Geographic Endeavour II
It is the end of the dry season, and the weather in the Galapagos is starting to change. Our first visit today was Dragon Hill, an area where we found land iguanas nesting. We started by exploring the rocky shore, which is also known as the intertidal zone. This is an area where we can find many invertebrates that shelter from big predators in the tidal pools. We observed marine iguanas going to the water for food. We continued to explore the inside of the island, and we found one spectacular surprise: a greater American flamingo foraging in a brackish water lagoon. This bird, like many other animals in the Galapagos, is fearless in our presence and allowed our groups to take pictures and enjoy its presence from a close distance. We finally arrived at the land iguanas’ nesting site. As the rain has not started yet, there is very little food for these herbivores. They are looking for leaves and climbing cacti to eat the very scarce greenery. After a refreshing snorkel in the nearby islets, we visited a second site for the afternoon. We anchored in Borrero Bay. We explored these shallow waters in kayaks, paddleboards, and Zodiacs while observing the interesting mangrove ecosystem. We found pelicans nesting, frigatebirds displaying, and even baby sharks swimming around the nursery. Our day ended with a circumnavigation of a small islet known as Daphne, where a group of scientists following Charles Darwin’s footsteps discovered how natural selection and evolution can take place in just a few generations. A beautiful sunset complemented our toast as we ended a great day.