Cruise Third Day (Tuesday) - Galapagos Odyssey - 4 night / 5 day Itinerary B (Northern Islands)
AM: Genovesa, El Barranco – dry landing. Activities: hiking, panga ride
Also known as Prince Philip´s Steps since the Duke of Edinburgh visited this island in 1964, this gully formed of lava rocks leads up some 25 m (82 feet) to an extensive flat dried lava field. It is an easy climb with a wooden handrail to assist us on our way up.
This part of the island is populated by red-footed boobies and frigatebirds, which prefer the trees, and Nazca boobies which simply nest on the ground. There are also small marine iguanas here. However, no land iguanas are present, as the ocean currents would not have taken them in the direction of Genovesa.
The trail continues through a Palo Santo (holy stick) and croton forest over large fields of lava to the southeast, where the trees give way to the famous Brachycereus, also known as lava cactus, and where thousands of Galapagos storm petrels are usually seen whirling in the skies.
Here we can also find a different species, the Madeiran storm petrel, sharing the space with the other petrels.
This site is also the best place in Galapagos to observe the endemic short-eared owl since they prey on the petrels.
A panga ride along the cliffs will offer good chances of seeing the rather elusive Galapagos fur seals among the rocks, as well as views of red-billed tropicbirds in flight.
PM: Genovesa, Darwin Bay – wet landing. Activities: hiking, snorkeling.
After landing at a small sand and coral beach, it easy to realize why this island is known as “a bird paradise.”
Among the bird species found here, the most common are swallow-tailed and lava gulls, mockingbirds, yellow-crowned night herons, lava herons,
Galapagos doves and yellow warblers, which add a dash of color with their bright yellow feathers.
The salt bushes of the island are dominated by great frigatebirds and red-footed boobies that breed in abundance on this island. Looking carefully, you might spot unusual red-footed boobies that have white feathers instead of their normal brown plumage.
From the beach a trail leads past tide pools and lava ridges to a high point overlooking the bay, offering one of the most rewarding views in Galapagos.
Darwin bay is also the only place in the islands to observe the sharp-beaked ground finch.