Ecuador and the Galapagos 14

2023 expedition to the Galapagos Islands & Ecuador

Santa Fe from Santa Cruz

Boat trip To Santa Fe island from Finch Bay on Santa Cruz, and the last tick off the list, the Galapagos Hawk

Boat trip on Finch Bays boat the “Sea lion” to Santa Fe island
The Last day of excursions in the Galapagos and we cant believe how fast this once in a lifetime trip has gone, but no time to dwell as we are heading to the island of Santa Fe onboard the Sea lion. A quick power boat trip to the yacht and we are underway, this is a long trip taking an hour and half to arrive at the island, and another 30 mins into the bay to moor up before another power boat and a wet landing on the beach.
Leaving the boat we were told to be careful not to tread on any sharks ! There were 5 or 6 White Tipped Sharks swimming just off the beach, luckily they are of no danger to humans but having already accidentally kicked on on Isabela island I was careful to pick my way between them as I headed for the beach.
Santa Fe is a small island and home to a Sea Lion colony, its own species of endemic Land Iguana and most excitedly for me home to the Galapagos Hawk, the only endemic bird of prey ( although there are Barn Owl, but these are not endemic ). The Hawk was the last bird on my wish list I had left to see, there were other bird species which we had not seen due to the time of year and some island closures due to bird flu, but there was a slim chance of see the Hawk on Santa Fe. I had been told not to expect to see one as we were only allowed on the island for an hour due to National Park restrictions and the hawk were not usually seen in this area.
Upon leaving the boat however, I saw something in the distance behaving like a raptor and so ignored the Sharks and Sea Lions and made my way up the beach for a closer look. Just as I raised my camera, our guide rushed up to me shouting Hawk! At first two of them were circling high in the distance, but slowly one of them approach closer and I managed to get a few photos. This made my day, and as I made my way back to the beach and Tracey, we happily set off on a short walk looking for Iguanas. 
The island is of course volcanic and the path was rough so we made slow progress through the Cactus trees, before see a few Iguanas basking in the sun to recharge their batteries. Along the path we also spotted Galapagos Mocking birds, Galapagos Doves, Sea lions, Lava Herons and Semipalmated Plovers, before heading back to the boat for our lunch. On the way back we did a quick detour in the power boat to the edge of the bay to watch the Blue Footed Boobies roosting on the rocks, the perfect way to end our time on Santa Fe.
After lunch the rest of those onboard went for a snorkel in the bay to watch the Sea lions, but having done a lot of snorkelling and swimming with Sea Lions we decided to stay on the boat deck, watching surfing Sea Lions and fishing Lava Herons in the distance. A perfect way to end our last trip on the Galapagos Islands, before the long trip back to Finch Bay on roughish seas. We finished the day with a superb meal in the restaurant, and packed our bags ready to leave in the morning.
On the morning of the 17th we headed by water taxi to town, a land taxi to the North of the Island, another water taxi to Baltra, a bus to the airport, a flight to Guaygil, another flight to Amsterdam, and quick flight to Newcastle and a two hour drive to Cumbria and home. A long journey over 24 hours and we arrived somewhat jet lagged but so happy, this may have been a trip of a lifetime but we both said we would return to the Galapagos islands again, it is simply the most perfect wildlife destination in the world.

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