Alarming news! Quite a few guests join Roxana, our wellness specialist, for an early-morning stretching session on the Sky Deck. One or two arrive at breakfast slightly taller than usual. Richard is ecstatic he didn’t attend.
Our morning landing is at South Plaza, a small islet off the eastern coast of Santa Cruz, formed by a geological uplift over a million years ago. Both South and North Plaza were once part of the ocean floor! We take a circuit trail, at times parallel to the cliff top where the trade winds provide an up-draft used by numerous seabirds. We see swallow-tail gulls and red billed tropic birds, plus the ever-present frigate birds waiting to pinch a free-meal. The main reason we’re visiting, however, is to spot the endemic Galapagos land iguanas. We’ve seen marina iguanas, but land iguanas are quite different and this will be our first opportunity to observe them close up. South Plaza obviously has a successful population because we see six almost as soon as we land from our pangas, and we spot many more during the walk, including a juvenile sitting on top of a prickly pear cactus tree!
Before lunch we enjoy Vanessa’s presentation on board about the human history of Galapagos, featuring the Bishop of Panama in 1535, through buccaneers and whalers, the first colonists, and including an Austrian woman self-named as the Baroness Eloisa von Wagner Bosquet and accompanied by three lovers! The 2013 film “The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden” tells more if you wish to know, see https://zeitgeistfilms.com/film/galapagosaffair.
This afternoon we’re visiting Santa Fe, first for kayaking, followed by snorkellers and then hikers for a loop trail over boulders and through a forest of an endemic species of large prickly-pear cactus trees. We’re also in luck. We see the endemic Santa Fe land iguanas (a different species to this morning) and the Galapagos Rice Rat! The rice rat is more like a cuddly hamster really, but it’s very rare and very illusive so we’re fortunate to see quite a few of them. Some guests even get photos AND video of a rat dining on a Sally Lightfoot Crab! Rare footage indeed.