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A Morning Hike with our Endemic Companions: Santa Fe Land Iguanas

A Morning Hike with our Endemic Companions: Santa Fe Land Iguanas

11th to 15th February 2017

This Sunday, while we were on expedition to the Eastern Islands of the Galapagos archipelago, it was time to visit the small but colorful island of Santa Fe. The island of Santa Fe is home to one of the most iconic species of Galapagos, the pale Santa Fe land iguanas. This species is endemic to Santa Fe. That means that this tiny island is the only place in the world where you will be able to see this unique creature living in the wild.

Santa Fe land iguanas are more pale than other land iguanas

Santa Fe land iguanas are more pale than other land iguanas. They also do not have the spiny crest of other species of land iguana.

 Arriving to Santa Fe Island

Today, while we were getting ready to disembark on the beach and start our hike, we could see Galapagos sea lions in the distance. They seemed to be watching us, curiously awaiting our arrival. Sea lions are sometimes quite playful!

When we got onto the island, we received a warm welcome from the baby sea lions! Later the Santa Fe land iguanas greeted us as well. This is the hot season in Galapagos, which means that there are refreshing showers in the afternoons. During this season, Galapagos plant life flourishes. For that reason, land animals thrive.

Looking for Santa Fe Land Iguanas

This is the best time of year to see the iguanas and land birds mating. Since it’s the hot season now, land animals abound. During our walk, we were able to see at least 8 Santa Fe land iguanas. A personal record!

This species is different from other land iguanas because it smaller dorsal spines. It also has a paler, more brownish color and a tapered snout. Most Santa Fe land iguanas eat prickly-pear cactus (there are a lot of them on this island!) but it seems that some iguanas can eat carrion and insects as well. When plants from the Portulaca genus are in blooming season, these iguanas love to eat their flowers too! This plant has red oblong leaves in the dry season and bright yellow blooms in the hot season.

A pale Santa Fe land iguana climbing through the rocks on his native island

A pale Santa Fe land iguana climbing through the rocks on his native island

After a hot morning, we got ready to go snorkeling in the afternoon. For guests who did not want to get in the water, we also had an activity in glass-bottomed boats in a calm and sandy bay. One of the benefits of travelling on an expedition vessel like the Santa Cruz II is that your group is accompanied by multiple guides. This means that the group can split apart to do different activities at the same time. On single-guided vessels, this flexibility is not possible.

After swimming in the crystal-clear waters, everyone thought that our excursion was right out of a paradise dream.

This was the high point of the morning, and now on to Plazas Sur! This is the second day of our Eastern Islands Galapagos Itinerary here on the Santa Cruz II. During this fascinating route, we visit San Cristobal, Española, Santa Fe, Plazas Sur, and Santa Cruz Islands. This is a great itinerary for birdwatching (during the right season you will see Española’s iconic Galapagos albatrosses) and land reptiles. The Galapagos always delivers, all you have to do is come!

Mauricio Tomala

Since a little kid, Mauricio fell in love with nature. Back in 1989 when his father got a teaching job in Galapagos, Mauricio and his entire family moved to the islands.

He became a Galapagos National Park guide in 1999. Since then, Mauricio has led many trips around the islands. He was also a Trip Leader in mainland Ecuador, as well as in Lima, Cuzco and Machu Pichu, Peru.

Mauricio has travelled all over south america, and that has helped him to understand better the biodiversity of the whole continent. He is fluent in Spanish, German & English.

After many years of experience, he has developed a passion for geology, genetics and history. His studies include a Bachelor and a Master degree in law. He is currently doing his Phd in enviromental law at Castilla La Mancha University of Spain.

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