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Galapagos Islands Guided Tour

Tagus Cove, Isabela

Tagus Cove, Isabela Island, Galapagos
Charles Darwin c 1840 "September 29th. -- We doubled the south-west extremity of Albemarle Island, and the next day were nearly becalmed between it and Narborough Island. Both are covered with immense deluges of black naked lava, which have flowed either over the rims of the great caldrons, like pitch over the rim of a pot in which it has been boiled, or have burst forth from smaller orifices on the flanks; in their descent they have spread over miles of the sea-coast. 
The rocks on the coast abounded with great black lizards, between three and four feet long; and on the hills, an ugly yellowish-brown species was equally common. We saw many of this latter kind, some clumsily running out of the way, and others shuffling into their burrows.... The whole of this northern part of Albemarle Island is miserably sterile." - Charles Darwin, Voyage of the Beagle

Albemarle Island, c. 1880
Albemarle, 1880
Huyot & E. de Berard

Tagus Cove is situated directly east of Fernandina on the west coast of Isla Isabela. 

It is a beautifully well protected cove sheltered by the shoulders of two volcanic craters and has been used as an anchorage for over 300 years. Unfortunately, many of those old ships and even some more recent yachts have left their marks with maritime graffiti along the crater walls. Historical artifacts are not always pleasant to see.

However, as we pull quietly into the cove we see a pair of Flightless Cormorants huddled together near the landing site on a nest, and a Galapagos Hawk perched in a Palo Santo tree halfway up the crater rim.

Soon after anchoring in the cove, our "marineros" have the pangas ready for our cruise along the shore before our hike. We immediately see a huge and vigorous feeding frenzy in the water that appears to make the water boil with activity. The area between Isabela and Fernandina are cold, rich waters abundant with sea life. It's a great area for observing whales, dolphins and other marine organisms attracted by the abundance of food.

Part way along the shore our marinero takes us into a large cave on the side of a tuff crater. At one time this cave may have been a lava tube and has since been eroded away. There are Brown Noddy's and Blue-footed Boobies roosting along the ledges inside the cave. The water here is exceptionally clear with visibility to the bottom at over 30 meters. We turn and look up and the cliff soars another 30 meters above us!

The cave near Tagus Cove, Isabela Island
© Jeff Waugh
Cave at Tagus

As we continue out of the cave and towards the cove, we spot some Galapagos Penguins swimming along towards us. it's difficult to get a good look at them as they zip by the panga after some fish. They look like the are flying through the water!

A little further along, our guide spots a few penguins on shore. Our marinero slowly and carefully moves closer with the panga for a closer look. As we slowly bob up and down in the waves, we are able to get a great look at these wonderful creatures.

Galapagos Penguin near Tagus Cove, Isabela Island
© Jeff Waugh
Penguins along the shore

After a few minutes observing the penguins, we slowly move along the shoreline looking for other surprises. Not far from the penguins we spot a Flightless Cormorant standing on the rocks. We slowly approach the cormorant and are afforded another close look.

Soon we are heading to the landing site for our late afternoon hike...

Flightless Cormorant near Tagus Cove, Isabela Island
© Jeff Waugh
Flightless Cormorant

We begin the hike up the dusty trail through the Palo Santo forest towards a viewpoint for Darwin Volcano. We see an old unmarked and undocumented gravesite a few minutes up the trail. I haven't met anyone yet who knows who (or what) is buried there. As we climb we are able to get a good look at the saltwater lagoon in one of the nearby craters, and a view back down to our boat in the cove. The view from the end of the trail at Tagus Cove, Isabela Island, Galapagos
© Jeff Waugh
The trail to the top of the hill...
Just about every time I have been here I've seen at least one Galapagos Hawk, and this time is no exception. It's there waiting for us at the top of the hill and gives us plenty of time to observe and photograph before it flies off in search of prey or carrion.

The viewpoint at the end of the trail is worth the climb, and we are there just as the light begins to turn orange before sunset.

© Jeff Waugh
Galapagos Hawk at the top

The view...
© Jeff Waugh
Tagus Cove from near the top of the hill with the salt lagoon in the foreground


Enjoying the view
© Jeff Waugh
Enjoying the view

We still have time to sit and enjoy the view of Tagus Cove (one of the highlights of any Galapagos vacation) before we descend back down the trail.

Tonight we will have good anchorage and stay put until early morning. Then our Galapagos cruise continues as we head south… To Urvina Bay




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