Day 2 - April 20, 2014 - Baltra to Baltra
By Ernesto Vaca Norero
Bartolome Island & Espumilla Beach (Santiago Island)
At a quarter to six in the morning the scent of brewed coffee triggers the senses. At six thirty we are to disembark at Bartolome Island, the Silver Galapagos’ first port of call in the “Natural Laboratory of Evolution”. The hour is early, but a cup of coffee is available before we board the Zodiacs, and breakfast can wait until after the return from the island.
The view from Bartolome Island is perhaps the best known scene in the Galapagos Islands. Every book on the archipelago depicts an image of the place. Despite this, every step along its board walk trail gives us the sensation of walking back through evolutionary history, a history that ends in the rise of well-adapted plant or animal species.
A mid-morning snorkeling around pinnacle rock submerged us into a three-dimensional realm of beauty, with colored fish swimming, hunting, eating, and reproducing around us. A lonely penguin watched our adventures from the rocky shore, an area where penguins usually nest.
The morning passed quickly and was followed by a well-deserved lunch at either the Restaurant or Grill. The choices were all delicious.
After lunch a lecture was given on the early life of Charles Darwin. The Silver Galapagos is visiting the places where Darwin disembarked in 1835 -he spent nine days out of his total of nineteen on Santiago Island.
In the afternoon we visited Espumilla Beach. It is a nesting-ground for sea turtles. The whole area is a “mangal” -a biota where black, button and white mangrove trees live in association with other plants. The turtle nests are protected from the heavy wave action on this beach by the “mangal”.
While some guests hiked through the mangroves, others took Zodiac cruises or kayaked along the shore.
I accompanied the kayakers. While we were wending our way along the shoreline, sea lions joined us, bow-riding our little crafts. Shearwaters flew over our heads. Blue footed boobies watched us silently from the shore, their blue feet draped over the contorted volcanic rocks. .
All too soon it was five forty-five in the afternoon. Twelve hours had elapsed. I was filled with memories of Bartolome and Santiago Islands, always different at each visit. Images of my hike and kayak will always be with me, a reminder of my adventures with the Silver Galapagos.
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