“ Address: Rabida Island / Galapagos / Ecuador „
Ra'bida Island, Galapagos
This little island was previously known as Jervis Island and was named after an 18th century British admiral, John Jervis, the Earl of St. Vincent .Recently the islands have become known by their Spanish or Ecuadorian names which makes sense considering there are part of Ecuador. The Ecuadorian name is apparently from the convent of Rábida, where we were told Columbus left his son during his voyage to the Americas. I didn't even know Columbus was married or had a son so that was something else I learned!
Ra'bida is just 5km south of Santiago island and is in fact one of the smaller islands .It is only five square kilometres in total but it is most famous for its deep red volcanic sand and soil. The soil and sand get their colour from oxidization of lava as this is a volcanic island. I discovered that this volcanic rock is called Scoria and is the same rock used for the Easter island statue's topknots!
Sadly a lot has changed on this small island. It used to be very popular with flamingos and the salt water lake just behind the beach was full of these beautiful birds. Today there are none as the other residents on the island, the sea lions, decided this was a good toilet. The flamingos were less than delighted and moved on.
We did see quite a few sea lions on the beach and a number of pelicans but compared to other islands this was relatively sparsely populated with animals. This could be because of the introduced goats who killed off vegetation and the land iguanas. The goats have now been removed but the damage is done sadly. They are having an issue with rats apparently and trying to get rid of them as they were introduced somehow but no one quite knows how or when.
This island is one of the many uninhabited by humans and as is the case with all the islands in the Galapagos , visitor numbers are limited by the National park. Also as is the case with all the islands you can only visit if you have one of the Naturalist guides registered with the National Park with you.
We were taken to the island in the zodiacs, small inflatable boats with outboard motors. You have to slide over the edge into the shallow water and wade to shore. After paddling on to the shore you had to use the towel brought by the guide to dry off your feet then get your shoes and socks back on before heading off for the hike.
Most of the hikes we went on were not actually that arduous but this was rocky and steep despite following a path so good walking shoes were needed. I wore trainers on all our hikes and they were fine. You didn't really have to be that fit but you did have to be able to walk on uneven ground and cope with hot dry conditions.
This island is said to have nine of the Galapagos finch species but I am no expert and they all looked pretty similar to me. We were lucky enough to see a variety of these finches but they are skittish and hard to photograph unless you have a good lens and are very quick. I liked the Yellow Warblers which were very pretty and also pretty quick too but at least they stayed around long enough to actually see them properly. The Galapagos doves were a bit less camera shy as were the cheeky mocking birds which we saw on a number of the islands. .
Ra'bida is a dry island with thin soil so the vegetation has to be tough to survive. It was mainly a different cacti, Palo Santo trees, and scrubby bushes. The cacti were huge and a bit like prickly pear cacti with lovely bright yellow flowers and some even had had fruit. I remember telling our kids not to touch them when we were in Spain and needless to say they did and got prickles in their fingers. I didn't make that mistake here!
The Palo Santo tree which in Spanish means "holy stick" was plentiful on Ra'bida. It looks pretty much like dead tree with lots of epiphytes hanging from them looking like rags in the branches. These trees are also known as incense trees as they are prized for their incense which comes from burning the branches. This special incense from this tree is believed to rid houses of bad 'energy' or evil spirits.: The locals say "Palo santo para limpiar tu casa de la mala energia, Palo Santo para la buena suerte", which translates to: "Palo Santo to clean your house of bad energy, Palo Santo for good luck." "
Our guide was very knowledgeable and planned our trips well. We started this walk quite early which was a good thing as it did get very hot. For all the hikes on the islands I would suggest wearing a hat, sunscreen and covering your shoulders. I would also say carry a bottle of water otherwise you could easily become dehydrated, some days we took more than one bottle. You cannot take any food or drink apart from water onto any of the uninhabited islands in the Galapagos in case you accidentally drop anything which might cause an imbalance of the eco system.
I enjoyed our visit to Ra'bida as I did all the islands but I tend to find animals more interesting than geology so the islands with a variety of animals were my favourites .
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