Day 4 - July 29, 2014 - Isabela Island

By Desirée Cruz, Guest Lecturer

Another beautiful sunrise. Silver Galapagos was at anchor in Tagus Cove, a very sheltered cove on the slopes of Darwin Volcano. Tagus got its name after a British HMS Navy vessel that visited the Islands in the 1800s. But many visitors came earlier than that since they could collect water and tortoises during the rainy season. Some of these visitors left their foot-print in the form of rock carvings of vessel’s names, such as the American whaling ship Phoenix from 1836, the French survey ship Genie (1846), and the English botanical expedition St. George.

We started our walk early in the morning to avoid the heat. We climbed up a tuff cone. Part of the trail bordered a salt crater-lake, Darwin Lake. The HMS Beagle also dropped anchor at this cove in 1835, but Darwin did not see “his” lake. Instead he went to the neighbouring lake which nowadays we call Beagle Lake.

The trail took us to a high look-out point from where we got to see the vast lava flows that bring together the northern volcanoes of Isabela –a delightful view.

The morning activities also included kayaking and snorkelling. I joined the snorkelling trip –but the water was a little bit chilly and quite murky. Nonetheless, I managed to see a couple of sea turtles, which is always a thrilling sighting.

Elizabeth Bay is a mangrove lagoon where we find the largest Red Mangrove trees in Galapagos. This was our destination in the afternoon. We did a Zodiac tour here –and I got the chance to lead one. We saw lots of Green Sea Turtles, Galapagos Penguins, Flightless Cormorants, Blue-footed Boobies, Marine Iguanas, Great Blue Herons, and Lava Herons.

Just at the point where Isabela bends, Elizabeth Bay is an idyllic place to put us in context with the immensity of Isabela, the largest island in Galapagos. Surrounded by volcanoes to the north and to the south-west, we could easily tell apart the two sections of this island: southern Isabela with two volcanoes and “aa” lava flows, and northern Isabela –uninhabited and almost untouched.