El Barranco

El Barranco - Genovesa Island

Also known as Prince Philip´s Steps since the Duke of Edinburgh visited this island in 1964, this gully formed of lava rocks leads up some 25 m (82 feet) to an extensive flat dried lava field. It is an easy climb with a wooden handrail to assist us on our way up.

This part of the island is populated by red-footed boobies and frigatebirds, which prefer the trees, and Nazca boobies which simply nest on the ground. There are also small marine iguanas here. However, no land iguanas are present, as the ocean currents would not have taken them in the direction of Genovesa.

The trail continues through a Palo Santo (holy stick) and croton forest over large fields of lava to the southeast, where the trees give way to the famous Brachycereus, also known as lava cactus, and where thousands of Galapagos storm petrels are usually seen whirling in the skies.

Here we can also find a different species, the Madeiran storm petrel, sharing the space with the other petrels. This site is also the best place in Galapagos to observe the endemic short-eared owl since they prey on the petrels.

A panga ride along the cliffs will offer good chances of seeing the rather elusive Galapagos fur seals among the rocks, as well as views of red-billed tropicbirds in flight.