Genovesa Island



Genovesa Island

Genovesa Island is a horse-shoe shaped island located in the northeastern region of the Galapagos Archipelago. Its distinct shape was formed from the eruption of a shield volcano (a volcano with broad, gentle slopes built up over time by repeated lava flows and resembling a “shield”) and the eventual collapse of one side of the caldera. The resulting submerged crater formed Darwin Bay, which is surrounded by steep cliffs that serve as a home and nesting area for many seabirds. Lake Arcturus, a salt-water crater lake, lies in the center of the. While no eruptions have ever been recorded on Genovesa, there is evidence of young lava flows on the outskirts of the volcano. The islands prime coastal nesting area earned it the reputation of “The Bird Island”. Two visitor sites on Genovesa offer an abundance of frigatebirds, Nazca and Red-footed Boobies, Swallow-tailed Gulls, storm petrels, Red-billed Tropicbirds, finches, and mockingbirds, among other bird species.


Genovesa Island






The first visitors site is reached a dinghy ride to Prince Philip’s Steps which began at the rocky waters edge and travel up to the plateau and then onward along a trail continues inland, passing nesting booby colonies in the thin Palo Santo forest. The steps where named for Prince Philip who visited Galapagos in 1965 and again in 1981. The climb up the steps reveals a variety of sea life using the crevices of the lava cliffs for shelter. Red-billed Tropicbirds fly overhead, darting between their nests and the bay, and a small colony of fur seals may be found near the landing site. Near the end of the trail is a lookout over a rocky lava plain where Wedge-rumped Storm Petrels dart about in all directions. Unlike other petrels, these birds are unique because they are active during the day and return to their nests in the evening to avoid their predators.


Genovesa Island



The second visitors site is reached by disembarking at Darwin Bay onto a small sand and coral beach. A short trail heads west along a tidal lagoon and then up a rocky hill that leads to a point overlooking the cliffs and the bay. Pairs of Swallow-tailed Gulls—the only nocturnal gull species in the world—Lava Gulls, Yellow-crowned and Lava Herons are a few of the birds seen along the way. The trail continues through Palo Santo trees, Opuntia cacti, and Saltbushes inhabited by Great Frigatebirds and Red-footed Boobies. You must be very careful of where you step to avoid damaging any Swallow-tailed Gull eggs. This is one of the few places in the islands where Red-footed Boobies, with their bright red prehensile feet and contrasting blue bills, are a guaranteed spot. Red-footed Boobies are the smallest of the three booby species in Galapagos, and two plumage forms can be found: 95% of the birds have brown feathers and the other 5% have white feathers. It is estimated that more than 200,000 Red-footed Boobies live in the trees and bushes of Genovesa.


Snorkeling at Darwin Bay along the cliffs at Prince Philip’s Steps, at Darwin Beach or anywhere along the cliffs inside the caldera is also wonderful. The water is incredibly nutrient-rich, so all types of marine life can be found. Numerous shark species are present, with hammerheads being the most abundant. Sea lions, sea turtles, and the occasional Manta Ray can also be seen.




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