Isla Santa Fe

Isla Santa Fe Travel Blog

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Another full night of sailing brings us to Ilsa Sant Fe or Barrington Island,after British Admiral Samuel Barrington, is a small, relatively flat island at the center of the archipelago, to the southeast of Santa Cruz Island. Geologically, it is one of the oldest volcanoes, with rock formations below the surface of the water that date back 3.9 million years.

Unlike most of the islands in the Galapagos that were formed by volcanic eruptions, Santa Fe was formed by an uplift caused by tectonic activity. This means that the island does not have the typical cone shape. Santa Fe has one of the most beautiful coves of all the visitor sites in the region.

The visit begins with a wet landing on the small beach in Barrington Bay on the northeast side of the island.

We see large numbers of sea lions on the beaches in the bay and can also see them surfing in the waves.

There are two trails, one short loop that is fairly close to the beach and provides a close-up look at the massive Santa Fe Opuntia cactus. The second trail climbs a steep cliff, providing a view of the inland section of the island and possible sightings of the Santa Fe Land Iguana.

The greatest challenge on Santa Fe has been to ensure that no invasive species become established. Of particular concern is the potential arrival of introduced rats.

On all islands except for Santiago, the endemic rice rat became extinct following the establishment of the Black Rat. Regular monitoring of the endemic rat population is critical, along with regular checks for the arrival of introduced rats.

Goats were introduced to Santa Fe sometime prior to 1905. These were finally removed (over 3,000 animals) between 1964 and 1972, with the final three goats removed in 1974.

After our hike we have a go at snorkelling in the beautiful lagoon. We are warned that these waters are home to Bull Sharks which can be dangerous. We are to keep an eye on our guide and watch for danger signals. The Seal Lions are very playful and seemingly are having as much fun as we are. We also have a close encounter with a turtle which is a little more shy but doesn't seem at all alarmed by our presence.

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Isla Santa Fe
photo by: gwmccull