We woke up anchored in Academy Bay and started an amazing day in the Santa Cruz highlands. We began in the beautiful Scalesia forest and visited the tortoise ranch, where we observed tortoises in their natural habitat. We enjoyed a delicious lunch and ended our day by visiting the Charles Darwin Research Station. Our guests were thrilled to meet and learn more about the famous Galapagos giant tortoises. They also enjoyed visiting the town of Puerto Ayora and seeing how the locals live.
National Geographic Islander II
We woke up to a view of North Seymour Island and plenty of seabirds flying along the coastline. At about 1.7 sq km, North Seymour is a small island. The island is an uplifting, which is a rising of the ocean floor caused by the movement of tectonic plates. After a dry landing on the rocky shores, we explored farther inland and encountered a large variety of seabirds. Male frigatebirds displayed courtship rituals, blue-footed boobies danced, and land iguanas basked under the sun. What a great welcoming committee! This island offers visitors an opportunity to learn about the native and endemic flora of the Galapagos. As we walked through the incense tree forest, we observed prickly pear cacti. During our walk, some of us spotted a juvenile eastern Galapagos racer, a snake endemic to the Galapagos Islands. After the hike, we returned to the ship to get fitted for snorkeling equipment and to enjoy an incredible Andean lunch. During the afternoon, we visited Rábida Island, a place covered in red cliffs and a red sandy beach. This exploration was quite exotic; it was almost like walking on Mars with shades of red as far as one can see. During the beach exploration, we had the opportunity to snorkel. While in the water, playful Galapagos sea lions came to play with us and gave us quite the show. After snorkeling, we changed into dry clothes and went for a stroll along the beach. Behind the saltbush vegetation, we encountered a couple American flamingos nesting, some Galapagos mockingbirds, and a few Darwin’s finches. What an incredible day we had in this enchanted archipelago.