Our first overnight stop in the Galapagos was Isabela Isand. We enjoyed several activities on or around several spots on Isabela over a two day period.
PUNTA VICENTE ROCA
This point is located at the mouth of the head of this sea horse shaped island. The rich up-welling of the Cromwell Current provides all the necessary nutrients for abundant marine life. The entire area of Punta Vicente Roca lies on the flank of the 2600′ volcano Ecuador; half of this volcano has slid into the ocean, leaving a spectacular cutaway view of its’ huge caldera.
Our activity here was a panga ride along the cliffs of the point. Although the seas were a little rough, we were delighted to see flightless cormorants, sea lions, seals, marine iguanas, pelicans brown noddy terns, Galapagos shear waters, petrels and Galapagos penguins.
The next day we made a wet landing on Isabela at Urbina Bay. This bay is located at the base of Alcedo volcano on the west coast of the island. The area experienced a major uplift in 1954, causing the land to rise over 16′. The coast expanded half a mile out, leaving marine life stranded on the new shore.
We landed on a black and somewhat rocky beach, and walked about half a mile into a forested area along a strictly controlled footpath. On the walk we encountered numerous Galapagos giant tortoises and land iguanas, as well as hawks, finches, mockingbirds and warblers. We also learned that up until the early 2000’s there were many goats in this area, which have subsequently been eliminated because of their adverse effect on the foliage and thus the natural inhabitants.
Tagus Cove, named for a British naval vessel that moored here in 1814, was used historically as an anchorage for pirates and whalers. One can still find the names of their ships carved into the rock. The cove is approached through the Bolivar Channel.
Some in our group landed, and hiked about a mile uphill, mainly to enjoy a wonderful volcanic view and Darwin’s lake. Others chose a panga ride along the cliffs and the tuff cone formations. These provide a wonderful shelter for many boobies, penguins, brown noddy terns, sea turtles and sometimes whales and dolphins.
We also had an opportunity to snorkel in this same area. A special treat was an encounter with a sea horse (unfortunately we have three short videos but no still images).