Santa Fe is one of the older Islands in the Galapagos archipelago, but like most of the islands here in this amazing place, it is quite unique. For instance, this is the only island that we have to leave by 10:00 a.m. Consequently, on this particular morning, our operation began a little bit earlier than normal in order to give us all the chance to enjoy all the different wonders that Santa Fe has to offer in such a limited time.
Our first activity of the morning is a hike on the island. In order to get there, and due to the size of the Santa Cruz II expedition vessel, we have to hop aboard a dinghy that takes us from the open ocean into a little bay with shallow water. This little bay also happens to offer one of the most amazing views in the Galapagos with its crazy color scheme that consists of: blues, greens, turquoises (and all the colours in between) framed by the dark black of the rocks on both sides of the bay and topped off with the light cream of the sand running along the edge of the beach followed by a layer of vividly green vegetation that’s crowned by the typically super clear and radiant blue sky overhead. Yep, this place looks just like the postcard you are imagining now!
This amazing bay is usually full of life. It only takes a minute to witness the many Galapagos sea lions that line and cover the rocks. Some of them are just resting at their favorite spots, but usually, there are many young ones that are playing around the rest of the snoozing adults. Every time we get close enough to the group of young sea lions, there always seems to be at least one brave and curious one which, for our lucky guests, can’t resist getting a closer look at us humans and delighting us by playfully swimming around our panga (dinghy). Once we’ve crossed the waters and have finally reached our destination, we have a beach landing and a nice place on land to check out the curious sea lions that follow us and pose, much to the delight of our guests.
It’s during moments like these, however, that our naturalist guides have to constantly remind our guests to not get too close to the wildlife. The excitement of being so close to these unique animals often interferes with our ability to remember just how fragile this place is!
The real purpose of our hike on the island is usually to try and find a particular species of land iguana that is endemic to the island of Santa Fe, aptly named the Santa Fe land iguana. On this day, however, the species that stole the show was another one of our BIG15 species – Galapagos Hawks on Santa Fe Island! At first, we were only able to find one youngster perched upon a bush, but after a while, we realized we were actually surrounded by them! In total, we counted 10 Galapagos hawks on Santa Fe island, all of them young.
There were some that were flying around really high up, there were others sitting on the rocks, perhaps looking for a lava lizard snack, and there was one that ended putting on an incredibly fantastic show for us. This last one came soaring over the tops of our heads and landed on a monument that was located up ahead on the trail. Then, as we walked up to the monument, it was kind enough to stay there and let us all get close to it. At one moment I could not tell if the hawk was looking at us or if our guests were checking it out, as both human and hawk were equally curious about each other.
The highlight of the visit was when a couple of our guests asked me to take a picture of them right beside the hawk and, just as we were getting ready for it, another young hawk landed on the same rock and kicked out the first hawk, which crash-landed on the floor not that far from the couple that was posing! The hawk that fell over then did the unthinkable and decided to take off by flying right through (or between) the couple that was hugging each other. There was something like just 20 centimetres/10 inches between our guests’ legs! Yet the hawk was able to fly right through that opening without touching either of them like it was nothing! This was definitively one of the more magical and WOW moments that only happen in the Galapagos!
Experience Galapagos hawks on Santa Fe Island for yourself aboard the Santa Cruz II Galapagos cruise! This best-in-class expedition vessels travels to the island of Santa Fe on our Eastern Islands Galapagos itinerary!