150909 Galápagos Islands

We left the ship soon after breakfast for a land walk up Dragon Hill on Santa Cruz in search of the land Iguana. On our way, we came across a large flamingo, alone and busy straining the brackish pond for plankton.

The land iguana rarely go near water unless it means there is a feed to have. They are just as grotesque as their ‘land’ relative but with yellow colourings around their face, neck and front portions on the body. They look like dragons with a spiky crest. Their diet is purely vegetarian and if food is not around, they sit and bask in the sunshine. Burrows are their home and their feet have been ‘adapted’ to cater to their needs of making their homes in the sandy soil. We saw 4 or 5 during the tour of the Hill.

Predatory birds and snakes easily prey upon young iguanas. Otherwise, they can live up to 60 years of age. They have been re-introduced to the island after becoming extinct years ago.

We see extensive dry looking, vegetation such as a forest of holy stick trees, whose appearance changes depending on the season. The arid forest is home to a variety of birds, such as mockingbirds, darwin finches, yellow warblers and Galapagos doves.

After a talk on volcanoes, followed by lunch, an ice-cream party brings all the sweet tooths out. An option of a non-land accessed snorkel trip is available in the afternoon. I wish I had been able to join them but I have come down with a cold and blowing your nose while your face is in a mask is both difficult and messy as it distorts the vision somewhat.

The last guided walk for the day is one we find out is the reason why the Galapagos is so different to other wildlife sanctuaries around the world. Although the arrival to the landing is safe, the rocks are slippery and sea lions are nearby. We saw a younger sea-lion, who had been suckling on its mother, make its way to the ocean over boulders. This was quite a task for the young fellow.

Various sea birds are searching for a mate to begin a family. The male frigate birds are on the ground puffing out a large red balloon under their beak, showing themselves off to the females ‘mate searching’ overhead. Although we keep to the set trail we are very close to the birds and their nests. Humans walking a short distance from their nests are no deterrent to their God-given goals. Some young are still on the nest from last season. They are there for 14-19 months before they too are off to join the circle of natural survival. This walk was, for sure, the most rewarding walk we had in Galapagos.

Today was a real highlight for most in the group as we prepare to leave tomorrow for more adventure that awaits us in the Amazon River Basin.

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