For guests on Santa Cruz II’s Northern Islands Itinerary, their first day on the Galapagos Islands offers them a relaxing walk along Bachas Beach. Bachas, located on the northern coast of Santa Cruz Island, is a beautiful white-sand beach where marine iguanas and frigatebirds tend to appear. People simply love this place: it has a special something that always makes for incredible sunsets.
Bachas Beach is best-known for one particular animal, one that isn’t as easy to see in the rest of the archipelago: the elegant and shy American Galapagos flamingo. In all of the Galapagos, the population of this rare species is no more than 600 in total. A very small number! We are lucky that these populations can be found here on Santa Cruz and on Floreana Island.
Today our guide led us to a lagoon by the ocean. When we arrived, the flamingos were not out yet so we decided to wait for them. All of us came together with other guests to join forces and invite the flamingos to the lagoon. Luckily, our short wait paid off! Two flamingos appeared quietly from behind the bushes. They were relatively far away, but they kept getting closer and closer to the shore, which is where we were all silently standing watching them.
It is quite rare to find American Flamingos outside of the coast of Colombia and the Caribbean, where they breed. The most interesting thing about them is not only their large size, and long legs and necks – they are amongst the largest birds in the archipelago – but their attractive pink color. Where does the pink come from? Their special shade is due to their diet which is rich in carotenoids (found in shrimp) and a gland at the base of their tail that transfers the pigment to its coat.
We could feel the nervousness in the air as the flamingos continued to approach. I even saw some of the guests closing their eyes, just to try to hear the purest sounds of nature. Being on places such as these, where wildlife roams freely, accompanied by the sweet coming and going of the ocean waves, can only be described as one of the most simple pleasures of life.
Only a few minutes pass, and suddenly one of the flamingos is right in front of us, perfectly painted by the sunlight, with its head bobbing in and out of the water every now and then. His head came out for air very briefly and then popped back in the water to continue fishing. This is the kind of welcome the Enchanted Islands likes to give its new visitors.
Close encounters such as these are an everyday treat here at the Galapagos Islands, where wildlife lives calmly unaware of human presence. We make a great effort to make our presence as little intrusive as possible, for we are but guests here on this archipelago. The less we disturb it, the more we will enjoy it.