What to expect in the Galapagos? The Galapagos consist of 13 major islands (ranging in area from 5.4 to 1,771 square miles, 6 smaller islands, and scores of islets and rocks lying athwart the Equator 600 miles west of the mainland of Ecuador. Their total land area of 3,093 square miles is scattered over 23,000 square miles of ocean. Here is what to expect on the smaller main islands:
- SOUTH PLAZA ISLAND – is one of the smallest islands to be visited. A large colony of sea lions, numbering about 1,000 bulls, cows and pups, occupies the smooth rocks here. The small cactus forest is populated by land iguanas, which can be seen sunning themselves or feeding on Opuntia pads and fruits. Along the cliff edge nesting swallow-tailed gulls are the predominant seabirds, along with tropical birds and shear waters. During the rainy season the dormant ground cover undergoes a drastic change. The red Sesuvium turns bright green and the leafless evening-blooming Portulaca bursts into large yellow flowers relished by the iguanas.
- SEYMOUR ISLAND – is an uplifted (as opposed to volcanic) island and so is generally flat and strewn with boulders. There are good nesting sites here for a large population of magnificent frigate birds. Blue-footed boobies perform their courtship dance in the more open area, and swallow-tailed gulls perch on the cliff edges. Despite the tremendous surf that can pound the outer shore, sea lions haul out onto the beach and can be found together with marine iguanas.
- BARTOLOME ISLAND – is a small island off of James that offers beautiful white sand beaches fringed by luxuriant green mangroves. The eastern end of the island has many volcanic cones and lava tubes. Climb to the summit of the island for one of the most breathtaking views in the islands. The tall, leaning spike known as Pinnacle Rock is the eroded remains of an old tuff cone. At its foot is a beach for swimmers and snorkelers, and a tiny colony of Galápagos penguins.
- RABIDA (JERVIS) ISLAND – has a different look, with its reddish beach, cliffs, and steep slopes of volcanic cinders. A noisy colony of sea lions lives on the beach, and a short trail inland is a good place to observe land birds such as finches, doves, yellow warblers, and mockingbirds. Hidden behind a narrow strip of green salt bush is a briny lagoon where flamingos may be found, sometimes even nesting. Snorkeling along the rocks at the east end of the beach may reveal many of the reef fish common to these waters, and the ever-present sea lions.
The best way to see the islands are to take a cruise, give us a call and let us plan your bucket list trip to this amazing place.
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