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What’s it Like to Hike Cerro Dragon in the Galapagos Islands?

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On a recent vacation visit to the arid Cerro Dragon (Dragon Hill) on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos Islands archipelago, we took an early morning hike among the prickly pear cacti, pink flamingos and land iguanas. Here are some of our best photos and highlights from hiking Cerro Dragon in the Galapagos Islands, home to a cactus forest; a flock of flamingos; shorebirds; and several rare land iguanas.

Where is Cerro Dragon located?

Cerro Dragon (Dragon Hill) is on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos archipelago. Its known for being an ideal place to spot the rare land iguanas of the Galapagos, and it also contains lagoons that are home to a small flock of pink flamingos.

Photo © Dandelion Chandelier.
Photo © Dandelion Chandelier.
Photo © Dandelion Chandelier.
Photo © Dandelion Chandelier.

It’s also home to several bird species, including Galapagos mockingbirds and Darwin´s finches, as well as many kinds of shorebirds.

highlights of a hike on Cerro Dragon in the Galapagos Islands

Upon arrival on the shore of Cerro Dragon on Santa Cruz Island, visitors are greeted with a stunning view of black volcanic rocks and brackish tide pools and a lagoon.

Photo © Dandelion Chandelier.
Photo © Dandelion Chandelier.

The shoreline is home to several varieties of shorebirds, including brown pelicans and frigatebirds.

Photo © Dandelion Chandelier.

Bright red Sally Lightfoot crabs form a welcoming committee on the black volcanic rock shoals of Cerro Dragon. The sandy beach adjacent to these tide pools is home to “ghost crabs” – tiny pink crabs that disappear into holes in the sand when they feel threatened.

Photo © Dandelion Chandelier.

marine iguanas

We were also greeted by a couple of marine iguanas making their way into the water. While we saw hundreds (perhaps thousands) of these on our visit to Punta Espinoza, here we saw only two. We were kind of happy about that, as they really freak us out.

Best photos and highlights from Cerro Dragon in the Galapagos Islands, home to a cactus forest, flamingos and several rare land iguanas
A marine iguana on the shores of Cerro Dragon in the Galapagos Islands. Photo © Dandelion Chandelier.

This marine iguana had no interest in us, thankfully. He was on his way out for a swim, and nothing was going to deter him.

Photo © Dandelion Chandelier.

And why not? The water looked pretty fine.

Best photos and highlights from Cerro Dragon in the Galapagos Islands, home to a cactus forest, flamingos and several rare land iguanas
Photo © Dandelion Chandelier.

a forest of prickly pear cacti

Among the many distinctive elements of the Cerro Dragon is the forest of prickly pear cacti that grow as tall as trees.

Photo © Dandelion Chandelier.
Best photos and highlights from Cerro Dragon in the Galapagos Islands, home to a cactus forest, flamingos and several rare land iguanas
Photo © Dandelion Chandelier.
Photo © Dandelion Chandelier.

They’re gorgeous and architectural – as an aesthetic experience, hiking through this cactus forest feels a lot like walking through a sculpture garden.

Best photos and highlights from Cerro Dragon in the Galapagos Islands, home to a cactus forest, flamingos and several rare land iguanas
Photo © Dandelion Chandelier.
Photo © Dandelion Chandelier.

a flock of flamingos

The flamingos of the Galapagos Islands are small in number, making a sighting of them a rare occurrence. Happily, on our visit, we spotted 5 of the graceful bright pink birds in the lagoons of Cerro Dragon.

Best photos and highlights from Cerro Dragon in the Galapagos Islands, home to a cactus forest, flamingos and several rare land iguanas
Photo © Dandelion Chandelier.

The vista with the flamingos, the lagoon and the prickly pear cacti was so perfectly beautiful that we had to remind ourselves that it was not a carefully landscaped exhibit at a large zoo – it was the natural unspoiled beauty of the Galapagos on full display. Magical.

Best photos and highlights from Cerro Dragon in the Galapagos Islands, home to a cactus forest, flamingos and several rare land iguanas
Flamingos in a lagoon on Cerro Dragon in the Galapagos Islands. Photo © Dandelion Chandelier.

Galapagos land iguanas

The dry volcanic rock of Cerro Dragon provides the ideal ecosystem for the Galapagos land iguana. Unlike their marine cousins, these iguanas are much harder to spot. They rest in burrows deep in the underbrush, eating cacti for food.

Best photos and highlights from Cerro Dragon in the Galapagos Islands, home to a cactus forest, flamingos and several rare land iguanas
Photo © Dandelion Chandelier.

We spotted two of them: one black and the other a gorgeous pattern of yellow, orange and red.

Best photos and highlights from Cerro Dragon in the Galapagos Islands, home to a cactus forest, flamingos and several rare land iguanas
Photo © Dandelion Chandelier.
Best photos and highlights from Cerro Dragon in the Galapagos Islands, home to a cactus forest, flamingos and several rare land iguanas
A land iguana on Cerro Dragon in the Galapagos Islands. Photo © Dandelion Chandelier.

a morning hike on Cerro Dragon in the Galapagos Islands

Those are some of our best photos and highlights from a hike on Cerro Dragon in the Galapagos Islands, home to a cactus forest, a flock of flamingos and several rare land iguanas. We were lucky enough to see several of the elusive species of the Galapagos archipelago on our morning hike. If you go, we wish you the same good fortune, dear reader.

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