- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
North Seymour Island was lifted from the ocean floor by a seismic event, and its origins as a seabed give the island its low, flat profile. Cliffs only a few meters high form much of the shoreline, where swallow-tailed gulls sit perched in ledges. A tiny forest of silver-grey Palo Santo trees stands just above the landing, usually without leaves, waiting for the rain to bring them into bloom. This island is teeming with life! You might have to give way to a passing sea lion or marine iguana. Blue-footed boobies nest on either side of the trail where mating pairs perform their courtship dance. You are likely to see fluffy white chicks peeking out from beneath their protective mothers. The trail follows the eastern shore along the beach. You may be fortunate to witness flocks of brown pelicans and blue-footed boobies hunting schools of fish. The boobies, which look so comical on land, are ideally adapted as dive bombers and easily pierce the water, zeroing in on their targeted prey. Frigate birds with wingspans of up to 5 feet soar overhead and all around. They have named for the way that the trim of their wings in flight is reminiscent of the square-rigged sailing warship. Not coincidentally frigate birds are also called Man O’ Warbirds and they live up to that name in a literal way when they target boobies, pelicans, and other birds to steal their catch. Because the frigates are pelagic, they lack the ability to take off from the water, so they do better at snatching fish from the surface or simply stealing them. They also target marine iguanas and young baby sea turtles. The trail turns east and inland to reveal the nesting stronghold of the frigates. Here you can see males with large, bright red, inflated throat sacks known as gular pouches, all done in an effort to attract females. Your guide will point out the difference between the Magnificent, or Man O’ War frigates and their Great frigate bird cousins. Large puff-ball frigate bird chicks inhabit nests, waiting for their parents to return with a meal. Even at this young age they possess long hooked beaks and act defiant when they feel threatened. You will also get a closer look at the feathers of the proud parents and notice their iridescent quality and deep green tinge.
Another inhabitant along the trail is the yellow land iguana. The species was originally introduced to North Seymour in 1932 by Captain Alan Hancock and his crew from Baltra with the aim of rescuing the creatures from the poor conditions left by goats and other feral animals. The iguanas colonized the island without a problem. The original colony disappeared from Baltra when it became a US military base in WWII. In 1980 Charles Darwin Station began a breeding program using some of the animals found on Seymour and successfully reintroduced their prodigy to both islands. Today the population on Seymour is roughly 600 and on Baltra 1,500.
Type of Landing: Dry
Level of Walk: Moderate
Other Activities: Nature Hikes, Snorkeling & Panga Ride
The snorkeling site at North Seymour also attracts scuba divers. You have a chance to see many types of rays here including marble rays, golden eagle rays, spotted eagle rays, sting rays, and even manta rays. Dormitories of white-tipped reef sharks sleep on the bottom while schools of king angelfish and yellow-tailed surgeonfish swarm the rocky shoreline passing the occasional parrot and damselfish. Some of the rocks are actually well-disguised scorpion fish. Large schools of tightly packed blue and gold snappers, grunts, and jacks are usually found plying these waters. Sea lions pay visits from both Seymour and nearby Mosquera Island as sea turtles and the occasional hammerhead shark can be seen down in the depths. Creole fish, the color of red salsa, hieroglyphic hawkfish, with neon-like etchings on their flanks, and spotfin burrfish, which look a bit like a swimming shoe box with a cartoon face also inhabit the region. Bartolomé is famous for Pinnacle Rock, a towering spearheaded obelisk that rises from the ocean’s edge and is the best-known landmark in the Galapagos, which served as a backdrop in the film Master & Commander. Galapagos penguins the only species of penguin found north of the equator walk precariously along narrow volcanic ledges at its base. Sea lions snooze on rocky platforms, ready to slide into the water to play with passing snorkelers. Below the surface, shoals of tropical fish dodge in and out of the rocks past urchins, sea stars, and anemones. A perfectly crescent sandy beach lies just to the east of the pinnacle and across a narrow isthmus another beach mirrors this one to the south. Sea turtles use both beaches and another to the west of the Pinnacle as nesting sites and can sometimes be seen wading back out into the shallow water near the shore or resting in the sand recovering from the arduous task of digging nests, laying eggs, and covering them over.
Penguins like to rest atop the nearby rocks by the next landing site, about a quarter mile east along the shore. Here the submerged walls of a tiny volcanic crater give the impression of a large fountain pool. This dry landing no wet feet! is the entrance to a 600-meter (2000-foot) pathway complete with stairs and boardwalks leading to Bartolome’s summit. The route is not difficult and presents an open textbook of the islands’ volcanic origins; a site left untouched after its last eruption, where small cones stand in various stages of erosion and lava tubes form bobsled-like runs down from the summit. At the top, you will be rewarded with spectacular views of Santiago Island and Sullivan Bay to the west, and far below, Pinnacle Rock and beach, where the crystal turquoise waters of the bay cradle your yacht. The next landing site is a short distance away to the southeast. This evening will be especially relaxed and you can have a long lingering soak in the Jacuzzi. The Grace yacht can stay anchored where she is tonight already within sight of the morning’s landing site across the channel just to the south. The view east toward the tiny twin table mountain islands of Daphne Major and Daphne Minor is particularly inviting with the sun setting behind them.
Type of Landing: Dry
Level of Walk: Moderate
Other Activities: Nature Hikes & Snorkeling