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PARKS AND TRIBES

 

DAY TRIP ESPANOLA, GALAPAGOS

Our 6 - 7 days Island hopping tour at an incredible price visits the following islands:

San Cristobal;

Santa Cruz;

Bartolome;

Isabela;

Espanola (from April to December when the Waved Albatrosses are breeding)

 

At its highest point at 206m, Espanola in relatively low and flat without too many geological highlights, but it is the only breeding place of the Waved Albatross. This spectacular bird is worth seeing when it is present on Espanola. This southernmost of the Galapagos Islands was the first to rise from the sea, about four million years ago. The island is a classic shield volcano, created from a single caldera in the center of the island, its highest point, while the rest of the island is basically flat.

 

Daytrips leave from the main harbor of San Cristobal, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, but departures may not be available every day,

 

Flora and Fauna

Espanola has several iconic species such as the Española mockingbird, the Española lava lizard, and Espanola Tortoise.

 

The Española giant tortoise had almost gone extinct being preyed upon by sailers, feral animals and rats, while feral goats grazed most vegetation away. in the 1960s only 14 (12 females and 2 males) individuals could be found, which were taken to the breeding center at the Charles Darwin biological station where they successfully raised young once till the age of 5 years old. Meanwhile the feral animals have been eradicated and the vegetation has recovered. Since the restoration had been initiated some 2,000 young tortoises have been released on Espanola where currently the population can maintain itself. The Goats eradiation program eliminated the last goats in 1978 and currently a vegetation restoration program is aimed at the the cactus forests; the latter will take a long time, as the Galapagos cactuses live up to several centuries.

 

BARTOLOME GALAPAGOS DAY TRIP: Lava heron

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PUNTA SUAREZ

The highlight of Espanola is Punta Suarez, the breeding colony of the Waved Albatross, often referred to as "Albatross Airport". Apart from that, resting sea lions sprawl at the rocky landing site, while visitors have to step over or around them to get to the trail. Young sea lions are frolicking in the shallow water of the landing place, waiting for their mothers to return with food.

 

Red and green colored line the shore. Only on Espanola, marine iguanas keep their color year around.

WAVED ALBATROSS NESTING SEASON

Best-known for being the sole breeding ground for most of the world's population of Waved Albatrosses - a small breeding colony existing off the coast of Peru - Espanola is among the prime destinations of the Galapagos Islands.

 

Waved Albatrosses are the largest albatrosses worldwide, standing almost 1 m high and their wingspans varu from 2 to 2.5 m while their lifespan lasts up to 40 years.

 

Mating for life, the breeding season of the Waved Albatross in from April to November. The rest of the year, the Waved Albatross in mostly absent, flying for weeks at the time over the ocean. During that time the island is less interesting and may be not worth spending a substantial amount of money on a daytrip. Given the relatively high costs of this daytrip, we have made this trip an optional extension.

 

Waved Albatrosses mate for life and perform an elaborate mating dance upon return to their nest. They lay only 1 egg alternating attending the nest. Their landing often is comicly clumsy. Young birds struggle to get to the cliff’s edge to launch themselves into the wind to take flight, mostly in December.

MARINE IGUANAS

When visiting Espanola, it is nice to see the marine iguanas

 

The trail passes by a small beach occupied by more sea lions and large and colorful Española Lava Lizards. It then cuts through some saltbush, where Galapagos Hawks, Española Mockingbirds, three species of Darwin’s finches, and Galapagos Doves all go about their business. Visitors then come upon the impressive nesting colonies of Blue-footed and Nazca boobies, who make their nests right along the visitor trail near the western cliffs of the island. Swallow-tailed Gulls and Red-billed Tropicbirds dash in and out of the cracks in the cliffs. Continuing inland, the trail leads to a cliff on the southern side of the island overlooking the ocean. Waves crash into a lava fissure, creating a blowhole that sprays water nearly 30 m into the air at high tide.

The highlight of this visitor site — and perhaps one of the highlights of the Galapagos Islands — is strolling along the edge of the Waved Albatross breeding colony. With a population of 25,000 to 30,000, nearly the entire world population of the adult birds can be found on Española between April and December.

 

Visitor Site: Gardner Bay

The beach at Gardner Bay offers one of the best beaches to experience “relaxing beach time” in Galapagos. The expansive white sand beach (one of the longest in Galapagos at 2 km) attracts many napping sea lions, as well as tourists. There is no inland trail and visitors are required to remain on the beach. Three species of Darwin’s finches and Española Mockingbirds may be seen at this site. Española Mockingbirds are fearless and frequently land on visitors’ heads and shoulders in search of food. This mockingbird is slightly larger than other mockingbird species found in Galapagos. It has a long, curved beak and is the only carnivorous mockingbird species, feeding on a variety of insects, turtle hatchlings, sea lion placentas, and even baby boobies. Visitors can swim or snorkel along the rocks in the shallow water near the beach. Green Sea Turtles may be found gliding through the water or hauling themselves onto the beach for a rest or for nesting (between January and March). Marine Sites: Gardner Island and Tortuga Rock

Snorkelers will marvel at schools of large colorful tropical fish, including Yellow-tailed Surgeon fish, King Angelfish, and Bump-head Parrotfish. A few underwater caves teem with wildlife, and there are rocky walls covered with various invertebrate species. The occasional massive Manta Ray or Spotted-Eagle Ray may glide by as White-tipped Reef Sharks nap on the ocean floor in rocky areas. This snorkeling site also offers a wonderful chance to swim with playful sea lions.

 

 

 

PARKS & TRIBES Travel Agency in Quito
Ecuador Address: Las Casas, Crossing Street: Jose Coudrin, 2 streets above the Occidental Highway, Canton Quito, Prov. Pichincha, Neighborhood Belisario Quevedo 
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Email: info@parks-and-tribes.com
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