Tuesday, 24 June 2014

South Plaza Island - Small and Mighty

South Plaza Sunrise Seen from the Panga
South Plaza is visited by many travelers who choose a cruise for their vacation to the Galapagos Islands. I've noticed that passengers might question what they can possibly experience here because as the cruise ship approaches South Plaza Island, they are likely to be a little underwhelmed by its size. After all its total area is just .08 square miles and at its highest point just 82 feet above sea level. (That's .13 km in area and 23 meters in altitude.)  But, I assure them that they will most certainly not be disappointed. South Plaza is beautiful and intriguing in every season. And it is teeming with colors, marine birds and, not surprisingly, sea lions.

South Plaza Galapagos
As your panga gets closer to the shoreline, you will get a taste of the fun that awaits. You might see a sea lion mom idling on the cliff side with a curious pup watching you watching him!









Though not terribly high, the rocky cliffs are impressive as you approach and as seen from the top of the island.




Swallow Tailed Gull Family
South Plaza offers a dry landing. You'll be greeted not only by sea lions, but usually by swallow tailed gulls.  In this photo we see a family: mom, dad and young chick just learning to mobilize himself.  He's still a long way from starting to fly on his own.



South Plaza Galapagos
Mid-Day Light

South Plaza Galapagos
Early Morning Light
But, really what distinguishes South Plaza is its beautiful flora. There are seasons when this island is very green. But, in December you will see red and yellow and green against the rugged black volcanic surface.  The colors are perfect for photography.


South Plaza Galapagos
Just about everywhere you stand on South Plaza you can see the Pacific Ocean surrounding you. So, you will be able to photograph the scene as you approach the island and then, from the island, you will be able to photograph exactly where you came from.




South Plaza Galapagos
The other distinguishing feature of South Plaza are its endemic iguanas.  It's one of those places where you have to be very careful where you step and I find myself reminding everyone, "Don't step on the iguana!."






When you look up, you are likely to see frigate birds and red billed tropic birds. 








And, sometimes, when the light it just right, it's even worth taking a photo of the human species visiting South Plaza.






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