Galapagos Cruise Report: Española Island

From the National Geographic Islander in Galápagos July 17, 2010

This island is approximately 5 million years old; it is considered the oldest island of the archipelago and the 8th largest of the archipelago taking into consideration its surface area. At first sight, you observe the lack of mountains which makes it a very dry island. Española is the island where Diego, the famous giant tortoise was taken to the San Diego Zoo, more than 100 years ago and thanks to breeding programs, the population of this incredible species increased considerably on this island.

Early in the morning, we dropped anchor at Gardner bay. A mist had covered the highest part of the island, but it wasn’t an impediment to embarking a beautiful kayaking trip along the islet of Gardner where we observed many Nazca boobies and playful sea lions.

After breakfast, we went back to the islet, but this time for snorkeling. The sea lions that accompanied us during the earlier kayaking swam with us. It was incredible to observe their friendliness, and they became the main attraction and delighted everybody. Afterwards we headed to the beach; it was crowded with sleeping sea lions – indifferent to the mockingbirds and lava lizards walking on their bodies trying to catch flies in their fur.

In the afternoon we disembarked at the westernmost position of Española, Punta Suarez. A hoard of weird marine iguanas with their red skin rested in piles, keeping warm together. It was very cold and a soft drizzle fell on the island forming small ponds of fresh water, which calmed the thirst of many land birds such us mockingbirds and doves. We crossed the Blue and Nazca boobies’ territory before reaching albatross territory. There were many of them nesting or feeding their chicks, but the most incredible sighting was observing the romantic courting of their synchronized movements. They clacked their beaks and producing a diversity of sounds, delighting our guests. The cold that we felt in the air got more severe with the cool light rain that was falling, but the beauty of the landscape and birds made us forget it as we continued walking to the end of the trail. There we spotted National Geographic Islander waiting for us in the bay – our home during this beautiful week.

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