Overnight we had a very rough sailing to Genovesa, one of the most northernmost islands. I am not a good sailor and have been taking Sealegs tablets daily as a preventative measure because I don’t want to miss a single moment of this lifetime dream (Galapagos is like Mecca to a biologist). Thankfully the tablets are working well but even so it is a fairly sleepless night as we toss and turn on the waves. In the early hours of the morning we reach the safe harbour of the horseshoe-shaped island.
Genovesa is also known as bird island for reasons that will become apparent to us. The harbour is a volcanic caldera where part of the wall has collapsed forming the Great Darwin Bay, which is surrounded by steep cliffs. On our first outing for the day we visit the ‘Prince Philip Steps’ – a very grand name for a very steep path climbing almost straight up cliffs that are 25m high (I believe they may have put handrails on parts of it when Prince Philip came to visit).
The island is just teeming with bird life. The cliff faces are full of swallow tail gulls and we can see larger birds nesting on the edges right at the top. When we reach the plateau at the top of the steps we see how amazingly adaptive nature can be. In a place that looks totally barren and full of dead trees, we start to see that there are birds nesting on almost every surface. Our instruction to remain 1m away from wildlife is again severely challenged. Nazca boobies are nesting on the ground and in lower bushes, the now familiar Blue-footed Boobies are nesting in the bushes and Red-footed Boobies are nesting in the trees. This is the first time we have seen Red-footed Boobies and are intrigued to see their pinkish blue beaks and bright red feet. Our initial progress is very slow as we all jostle for position to photograph these strange new birds and their cute fuzzy chicks perched up in nearly leafless trees. They share their tree top abode with the ginger topped chicks of Great Frigate Birds. We learn that the trees are not dead or dying but are indeed supremely adapted to the harsh conditions.
Then we have the opportunity to go snorkelling in search of Hammerhead sharks. One of our boatmen is also a keen diver and leads us off on this expedition. Unfortunately the sea is still quite rough and visibility is poor. He swims really fast and it is the best I can do just to try to keep up with him (I don’t want to be left behind with sharks around). We swim a long distance and see some amazing undersea scenery but none of us see the sharks on the way even though they were apparently there (according to our guide who expressed surprise that we hadn’t seen them).
In the afternoon we go ashore at a point that is not at the top of the cliffs and see more birdlife in a not so inhospitable environment. We are surprised to discover that there are both brown and white variants of the Red-footed boobies: approx. 75% brown morphs and 25% white morphs.
For similar trips see:
Peregrine Adventures Travel Destinations (Comfort and independent tours)
Geckos Adventures (for 18 to 30s)
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