A Morning Hike with our Endemic Companions: Santa Fe Land Iguanas

This Sunday, while we were on an expedition to the Eastern Islands of the Galapagos archipelago, it was time to visit the small but colorful island of Santa Fe. The island of Santa Fe is home to one of the most iconic species of Galapagos, the pale Santa Fe land iguanas. This species is endemic to Santa Fe. That means that this tiny island is the only place in the world where you will be able to see this unique creature living in the wild.

 Arriving at Santa Fe Island

Today, while we were getting ready to disembark on the beach and start our hike, we could see Galapagos sea lions in the distance. They seemed to be watching us, curiously awaiting our arrival. Sea lions are sometimes quite playful!

When we got onto the island, we received a warm welcome from the baby sea lions! Later the Santa Fe land iguanas greeted us as well. This is the hot season in Galapagos, which means that there are refreshing showers in the afternoons. During this season, Galapagos plant life flourishes. For that reason, land animals thrive.

Sea Lions On Santa Fe Island.
Encounter With A Friendly Sea Lion During Our Exploration Of Santa Fe Island.

Looking for Santa Fe Land Iguanas

This is the best time of year to see the iguanas and land birds mating. Since it’s the hot season now, land animals abound. During our walk, we were able to see at least 8 Santa Fe land iguanas. A personal record!

This species is different from other land iguanas because of its smaller dorsal spines. It also has a paler, more brownish color and a tapered snout. Most Santa Fe land iguanas eat prickly-pear cactus (there are a lot of them on this island!) but it seems that some iguanas can eat carrion and insects as well. When plants from the Portulaca genus are in blooming season, these iguanas love to eat their flowers too! This plant has red oblong leaves in the dry season and bright yellow blooms in the hot season.

Galapagos Iguanas: Santa Fe Iguana
The Santa Fe Land Iguana Is Known For Its Pale Color.

After a hot morning, we got ready to go snorkeling in the afternoon. For guests who did not want to get in the water, we also had activity in glass-bottomed boats in a calm and sandy bay. One of the benefits of traveling on an expedition vessel like Santa Cruz II is that your group is accompanied by multiple guides. This means that the group can split apart to do different activities at the same time. On single-guided vessels, this flexibility is not possible.

After swimming in the crystal-clear waters, everyone thought that our excursion was right out of a paradise dream.

This was the high point of the morning, and now on to Plazas Sur! This is the second day of our Eastern Islands Galapagos Itinerary here on the Santa Cruz II. During this fascinating route, we visit San Cristobal, Española, Santa Fe, Plazas Sur, and Santa Cruz Islands. This is a great itinerary for birdwatching (during the right season you will see Española’s iconic Galapagos albatrosses) and land reptiles. The Galapagos always delivers, all you have to do is come!

Updated:May 10, 2023

Published:February 21, 2017


Machu Picchu & Galapagos Islands Tour 2024 Package: 12 days / Quito, Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu / From USD 9,598 per person




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This small, secret rooftop of the restored Casa Gangotena mansion peers over Plaza San Francisco in the center of Quito’s colonial Old Town, the world’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Order a Cedrón Spritz, a refreshing mix of rum, lemon, sparkling wine, and fresh lemon verbena (cedrón) syrup and leaf, then revel in the mesmerizing, real-time montage of daily life in Ecuador’s capital as it parades past.

National Geographic Traveller

A Font of information, Klaus has spent decades in the field, leading tours in the Amazon, Andes and Galapagos Islands. He hung up his guiding boots a few years back and now creates itineraries for the tour operator, Metropolitan Touring. Adrift in the Pacific Ocean, hundreds of miles from mainland South America, Galapagos is one of the most biodiverse locales on Earth.

Cruise Critic

Santa Cruz II is a replacement for the much-loved Santa Cruz, which plied the waters of the Galapagos for 36 years. It is not a new ship; it was built in 2002 and sailed as Mare Australis under the Australis cruise brand, operating expedition cruises around Cape Horn and to Antarctica. Metropolitan Touring bought the ship in 2015 and completely refurbished it, launching it as Santa Cruz II in October 2015.

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When this modern, minimalist, glass-walled jungle lodge opened in 2012, it changed the accommodation game in South America. Arquitect Alfredo Ribadeneira’s “protective cocoon” would impress in a modern city; in the depths of an Andean cloudforest, it is wild, audacious and beautiful. Though only 70 miles from Quito, Maspi Lodge sits in splendid isolation, perched on a cliff at the end of an unsealed road.

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Itinerario de 5 días / 4 noches: Basado en la tarifa regular (4214 USD + impuestos por persona)
Itinerario de 7 días / 6 noches: Basado en la tarifa regular (5672 USD + impuestos por persona)
No reembolsable. Aplica únicamente para residentes ecuatorianos en nuevas reservas directas realizadas, hasta el 30 de junio del 2022, con un ejecutivo de ventas del hotel. Válido para estadías hasta el 31 de agosto de 2022. No puede ser combinada con otros descuentos, promociones u ofertas. El descuento no aplica para otros servicios. El precio no incluye recargo de combustible de $20 por noche de crucero.

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