DAY 5

South Plazas Island

Not far from Santa Cruz Island you will cruise for two hours to one of the most unique islands in the world, South Plazas Island.

South Plaza (Spanish: Isla Plaza Sur) is a small island off the east coast of Santa Cruz in the Galápagos Islands. It has an area of 0.13 km² and a maximum altitude of 23 meters.

South Plaza was form by lava up streaming from the bottom of the ocean. Despite its small size, it is home to a large number of species and known for its extraordinary flora. The sea bluffs hold large numbers of birds, such as nesting Red-billed Tropicbirds and Swallow-tailed Gulls, and offer wide vistas. The Prickly Pear Cactus Trees (Opuntia echios) are noteworthy, as is the large colony of Galápagos Land Iguanas. Furthermore, the territory and breeding season of the Galapagos Land Iguana overlap only on South Plaza Island with those of the Marine Iguana, giving rise to a unique population of Hybrid Iguanas Depending on the season, the Sesuvium ground vegetation changes its color from green in the rainy season to orange and purple in the dry season.

Santa Fé Island

With an area of 24 square kilometers (9.3 square miles) and a maximum altitude of 259 meters or 850 feet;

Santa Fe Island, also called Barrington Island after British Admiral Samuel Barrington, is a small, relatively flat island at the center of the Archipelago located to the southeast of Santa Cruz Island. Geologically, it is one of the oldest islands, with rock formations below the surface of the water that date back 3.9 million years. There is strong evidence that Giant Tortoises were once native to Santa Fe. At least two accounts of whaling vessels removing tortoises from Santa Fe exist and two informants to the California Academy of Sciences expedition in 1905-06 told of tortoises having been on Santa Fe. Current genetic analyses of the bone fragments collected by the California Academy of Sciences suggest that the Santa Fe Tortoise was a unique tortoise taxon (biological group) most closely related to the Española Tortoise (Chelonoidis hoodensis). The vegetation of the island is characterized by the presence of a dense forest of the largest species of Giant Opuntia Cactus.

.

In a spectacular visit to Santa Fé Island observe the Galápagos Hawk, unique Darwin Finches, curious Mockingbirds, enchanting Doves and the largest colony of Sea Lions.

Directly following this visit we will enjoy an amazing snorkeling opportunity with a great diversity of marine life; possibly Spotted Eagle Rays, Sting Rays, White-tipped and Galápagos Sharks. Abundant schools of fish are at every turn.