April 1835 to 20 October 1835
of South America, Part 5:
3rd Andes Expedition
FitzRoy to the Rescue
Taking on Provisions
At the Galapagos
Darwin the Explorer
some time over the next few weeks Darwin learned that Capt.
FitzRoy had been promoted by the Admiralty.
Beagle left the ruined town of Concepcion on April 17th, examined
the town of Coliumo near the Maule River on the 20th, then sailed
north surveying the coast.
arrived at Valparaiso three days later where Darwin came on
board and told FitzRoy about the promotion he had received.
Darwin returned to shore on April 24th and traveled north to
the town of Coquimbo.
next day the Beagle headed to Horcon Bay, then sailed the next
day to Papudo.
follows is Darwin's third and last Andes expedition. Once again,
I have decided to describe it with a day-by-day outline of events,
along with maps (available soon) to make the trek more clear
to the reader. Keep in mind that the names of places Darwin
visited are spelled with many variations in his journal and
also on various maps of the time, so it is unknown if all places
are spelled accurately.
27, 1835 - Started out from Valparaiso with a guide named Mariano
Gonzales, four horses and a mule, and traveled as far as Vino
April 28 - Arrived at Limache then through Umiri and on to the
foot of Bell Mountain where he did poorly at a geological survey
of the area. Arrived at Quillota that evening.
April 30 - Arrived at Cerro de Chilicauquen then proceeded to
Plazilla and on to the Coquimbo main road.
May 01 - Now at Catapilco, the proceeded along the Valley of
Longotomo just off the coast.
May 02 - Traveled to the town of Quilimar on the coast.
May 03 - Went from Quilimar to Conchalee.
May 04 - Conchalee to Illapel where he finally became bored
with coastal region and set out inland to Illapel.
May 05 - Spent the day in Illapel which was at the time was
a copper mining town.
May 06 - Stopped at Los Hornos, another major mining town.
May 07 - Stayed in Los Hornos to explore the geology of the
May 08 - Arrived at Combarbala at foot of Cordilleras.
May 09 - Went to the copper and gold mining town of Punitague.
May 10 - Arrived at Ovalle on the River Limari.
May 11 - Traveled to Panuncillo, yet another mining town.
May 12 - Stayed in Panuncillo all day to explore the mines.
May 13 - Traveled from Panuncillo to Tambillos to examine their
May 14 - Darwin crossed to the Port of Coquimbo where the Beagle
was being refitted, and stayed the night with the crew camped
out on the beach.
May 15 - Darwin stayed on the Beagle all day.
May 16/18 - Darwin and FitzRoy traveled along the coast and
stayed in Coquimbo 11 miles away.
May 19 - Darwin walked a little ways up the valley where he
examined a series of stepped hillsides with sea shells embedded
May 21 - Took a short trip with Don Jose Maria Edwards to the
famous silver mines of Arqueros, then on to the Coquimbo Valley.
Darwin had a very restful nights sleep, due mainly to the lack
of fleas which were very troubling in Coquimbo.
May 22 - Darwin examined the silver mines owned by Mr. Edwards,
then headed back to Coquimbo.
May 23 - Spent the day traveling up the valley and studied the
geology. Spent the evening at a hacienda own by a cousin of
May 25 - Darwin left the company of Mr. Edwards today. He was
now where the River Claro meets Elque. He studied an area that
contained some petrified shells.
May 26 - Returned to the Hacienda. Darwin rejoined Mr. Edwards
and they traveled to Coquimbo which they arrived at late in
May 27 - June 02 - Darwin set out for Guasco on the main road
along the coast with a guide to show him the way.
June 03 - Traveled from Yerba-buena to Carizal. Darwin commented
at length in his journal about the dry conditions and the scarcity
of animals in the area.
June 04 - Traveled from Carizal to Sauce.
June 05 - Arrived at Freyrina by crossing some mountains. Darwin
commented that vegetation was becoming more and more sparse
as one traveled north. The whole area was like a life-less alien
world to him.
June 06 - Stayed in Freyrina all day so his horses could rest.
Visited with Mr. Hardy, the owner of the copper mines in the
June 07 - Rode down to the Port.
June 08 - Rode up to Ballenar.
June 09/11 - Darwin continued to ride further up the valley
which was a very desolate region.
June 12 - Arrived at the Hacienda of Potrero Seco in the Copiapo
June 13/14 - Studied the geology of the nearby mountains.
June 15 - Went up the Copiapo Valley to the Cordilleras Mountains
heading south-southeast. Dined at a Hacienda in the area owned
by Don Eugenio Matta.
June 16 - Stayed at a hacienda owned by Don Benito Cruz.
June 17 - Darwin hired mules and a guide and headed into the
Cordilleras. He traveled up to where the valley splits into
three smaller valleys. He continued up the one called the Jolquera
June 18 - Proceeded up the valley, then headed back down because
it suddenly turned in a very northerly direction and did not
interest him. There was also a small earthquake in the area
in the evening.
June 19 - Returned down the valley to Las Amolanas.
June 20 - Darwin was in Las Amolanas all day where he found
many curious looking petrified shells and pieces of wood.
June 21 - Returned to the Hacienda at Potrero Seco, then on
to Copiapo where Darwin stayed for three days.
June 26 - Hired a guide and 8 mules and headed back to the Cordilleras
via more direct route.
June 27 - Reached the ravine of Paypote.
June 28 - Darwin continued up the valley towards an area called
Maricongo. He climbed to the top ridge of the Cordilleras where
there was a lot of snow and very cold temperatures.
June 29/30 - Returned back down the valley to the Agua Amarga.
July 01 - Reached valley of Copiapo.
July 02/03 - Stayed at Mr. Bingley's house in town.
July 04 - Headed back to the port, about 54 miles away.
July 05 - Reached port at noon time. Here Darwin found out the
Beagle had arrived two days ago. Capt. FitzRoy was not there
at the time as he was busy rescuing the crew of a shipwreck
at Arauco (see details below).
time during his short stay on the coast, Darwin sent his last
collection of specimens to Revd. Henslow via the ship H.M.S.
Conway, a warship with a crew of 175 men. From this time onward,
any future specimens collected by Charles Darwin would be kept
on board the Beagle for the remainder of the voyage.
Charles Darwin's exploration of the Andes Mountains, we find
Capt. FitzRoy busy surveying the western coastline of South
America and rescuing some stranded Englishmen. His adventures
few days after leaving Darwin to explore the Andes Mountains,
the Beagle headed to Conchali, then in the first week of May
to Quilimari Cove, and on the 4th to Herradura Cove where the
crew went ashore and the Beagle was cleaned out and repainted.
The Beagle was finished being repainted by June 6th, left Herradura
Cove and sailed for the town of Valparaiso where they arrived
on the 14th.
June 16th more mail arrived and Capt. FitzRoy learned that H.M.S.
Challenger had wrecked along the coast of Chile and the crew
was stranded on shore (according to records of the time this
wreck took place on May 19th). He left the Beagle two days later
and went with H.M.S. Blonde to Talcahuano Harbor. In the mean
time, the Beagle proceeded to survey further north along the
FitzRoy left Talcahuano Harbor on June 21st with five horses
and provisions. Mr. Usborne, Mr. Bennett and a few other crew
members went with him. The next day the horses were loaded onto
a barge and crossed the Biobio river to the south. They rode
into the hills past Point Coronel to Playa Negra and on to Villagran.
rescue party finally reached Leubu River on the 23rd, where
the crew of the Challenger was camped out. He dropped off loads
of provisions for the crew, surveyed the area to see where a
rescue boat could be brought in, and then rode back north to
the town of Concepcion.
arrived back at Concepcion on June 26th, and the next day took
command of H.M.S. Blonde and sailed back south to pick up the
crew of the Challenger was brought on board the Blonde on July
5th. Two days later they arrive back at the town of Concepcion
safe and sound. By now Charles Darwin had also been picked up
after his last Andes expedition.
next day FitzRoy and the others boarded the Beagle and set sail,
crossing the Tropic of Capricorn this day.
Beagle arrived at Port of Iquique on July 12th.
Beagle arrived at Callao, outside of Lima Peru on the 19th.
Darwin looked around the city and was shocked at the state of
decay all around him (poor looking dwellings, litter, dirty
). He explored some old Indian ruins outside
the city and mentioned exploring San Lorenzo Island's terraces
with shell layers intact (off the coast of Bellavista). The
next few weeks were spent taking on provisions for the trip
across the Pacific ocean.
Blonde reached Callao Bay on August 9th and met up with the
few days later Darwin received three letters from his sisters
(dated as: Catherine: 28 January, Susan: 16 February, Caroline:
30 March) telling him how worried they were about his being
ill for such a long time at Valparaiso. They feared that if
he continued on the voyage his health would be ruined for the
rest of his life, and they pleaded with him to return to England
at once. He immediately wrote a letter home, telling his sisters
that he was resolute to see the voyage to the end - ill health
time did not permit FitzRoy to continue his survey of Peru,
he bought a large boat named Constitution for 400 lbs to assist
in his survey work. Alexander Usborne, Charles Forsyth, E. Davies
(of the Blonde), seven seamen and one boy were transferred to
this boat on September 6th and surveyed north along the coast
of Peru. When their work here was completed they returned to
England via Tierra del Fuego, and across the Atlantic Ocean
Beagle set out from Callao, Peru on September 7th and sailed
out to the Galapagos Archipelago.
am very anxious to see the Galapagos Islands, -- I think both
the Geology & Zoology cannot fail to be very interesting."
-- Charles Darwin, Letter to his sister, Catherine in August
natural history of this archipelago is very remarkable: it seems
to be a little world within itself; the greater number of its
inhabitants, both vegetable and animal, being found nowhere
else." - Charles Darwin
Entire Survey of the Galapagos Islands
accurate are these maps?
Survey Route Lines (in red) -
route lines are fairly accurate, as FitzRoy provided plenty
of survey information in his personal journal. This, combined
with the narrative in Darwin's Beagle Diary at the Galapagos
Islands, make figuring out where the Beagle went fairly easy.
The only section that I am not sure about is to the north
where the "strong currents" existed near Abingdon
Island. Here I assume the Beagle was not able to sail directly
to other islands, but rather took a very erratic route as
is hinted at in FitzRoy's narrative.
Boat Survey Route Lines (in yellow) -
is hardly any information regarding the specific routes of
the smaller survey boats used at the Galapagos Islands. The
text I studied just states that an island was surveyed by
smaller boats, and no other detail is provided. Since I do
not have access to the original survey maps drawn by the crew,
I have relied only upon FitzRoy's Journal.
have made a few assumptions about the routes of the smaller
boats. First of all, FitzRoy was a very patient, detail oriented,
and meticulous captain. I am assuming, when ordering the survey
of an island, he would expect a very complete one. The routes
I have indicated, therefore, explore every large cove and
shelter along the coastline of islands, and also circumnavigate
each of the islands FitzRoy ordered to be surveyed.
of the Islands -
all these maps the graphics used to show the topography of
the islands makes them appear far more mountainous than they
actually are. This representation is just a side effect of
the graphics program I used to create the islands.
onto the adventures in the Galapagos! In the afternoon of September
15th a tiny point of land was seen on the horizon. This was
the first sighting of the Galapagos Archipelago by the Beagle,
and it turned out to be Mount Pitt, a large hill on the north-east
end of Chatham Island.
we were anxiously looking out for land, when what appeared
to be an islet was seen from the mast-head. This seeming islet
turned out to be the summit of Mount Pitt, a remarkable hill
at the north-east end of Chatham Island." -- Capt.
Robert FitzRoy's Journal.
very next day H.M.S. Beagle reached Hood Island, shown above.
Early in the morning Edward Chaffers (Master) and Arthur Mellersh
(Midshipman) set out on a boat to survey the island's shoreline.
noon another boat was launched to survey the central islands
of the archipelago. Later in the afternoon H.M.S. Beagle reached
Chatham Island. Darwin was intrigued by the rocky shore of black
lava, and the raw hostile environment.
Beagle arrived at Chatham Island on the 17th, sailing north
along the western shoreline and surveyed several bays along
the coast and spotted an American Whaler in Stephen's Harbor.
The next day the Beagle arrived at the north-east end of Chatham.
Capt. FitzRoy and others went on a short inland excursion. Darwin,
Covington, and John Stokes (assistant surveyor) were also put
on shore to explore on their own. It was a very, very hot day,
about seventy degrees over the water, but much hotter on the
island due to radiating heat off the lava rock. Darwin examined
the huge tortoises here and collected about ten plants, most
of which he thought were unimpressive little things. Eighteen
tortoises are brought on board the Beagle as food.
the next few days the Beagle sailed around to the eastern side
of Chatham and then surveyed southward along the coast. A fresh
source of water was located on the south-east part of the island
at a place later to be called Bahia de Aqua Dulce. The crew
took on a water supply and continue to the southern end of Chatham
Island where Chaffers and Mellersh came back on board.
FitzRoy finished up the survey of Chatham Island by September
22nd, and more tortoises were brought on board for food. The
next day the Beagle sailed out towards Barrington Island and
spent the night between Hood and Charles Islands.
next day was spent surveying the waters around Charles Island
which was populated by a small colony of about 250 political
prisoners from the Republic of Equator (established in 1829).
Darwin went on shore with Covington to collect plants and birds
and climbed the highest hill - about 1,800 feet above sea level.
He also examined a few curious lava chimneys. During his stay
on the island Darwin was informed by Mr. Nicholas Lawson, an
Englishman in charge of the prison colony, that one can tell
which island a tortoise came from by looking at it's shell,
(at the time Darwin did not grasp the significance of this news!).
Another small boat, under the command of Edward Chaffers, was
launched to survey the little islands off the south-east coast
of Charles Island. In the afternoon the Beagle anchored at Post
the 25th Mr. Lawson came on board the Beagle. Later in the day
he took Capt. FitzRoy and others on a tour of the prison colony
on Charles Island. Chaffers returned to the Beagle the next
day after surveying the southern end of Charles Island.
next day was spent exploring the interior of Charles Island.
industriously collected all the animals, plants, insects &
reptiles from this Island. [on Charles Island] It will be very
interesting to find from future comparison to what district
or 'center of creation' the organized beings of this archipelago
must be attached." Charles Darwin's Beagle Diary,
September 26/27, 1835.
September 28 H.M.S. Beagle set sail for Albermarle Island, shown
above, and in the evening anchored off the south-west shore.
the next few days survey work was done along the south-west
tip of Albermarle Island. Arthus Mellersh and Philip King (midshipman)
were let off on a boat to survey Elizabeth Bay. The crew was
astonished at the sight of huge swarmsof
ugly lizards (marine iguanas), 3-4 feet in length, all along
black Lava rocks on the beach are frequented by large (2-3 ft)
most disgusting, clumsy Lizards. They are as black as the porous
rocks over which they crawl & seek their prey from the Sea."
Charles Darwin's Beagle Diary, September 17, 1835.
was a good breeze on the 3rd in the morning and the Beagle set
sail for Banks Cove near the northern tip of Albermarle Island.
Along the way the Beagle was nearly stuck between Albermarle
and Narborough Islands due to extremely calm winds. They eventually
passed through Canal Bolivar between Narborough and Albermarle
Islands and anchored at Banks Cove.
small party explored inland on October 1st to look for fresh
water, but they only located a few small watery holes in the
rocks. All Darwin found was an elliptical crater near a small
cove that had a small salty lake with an island in middle. Due
to the shortage of potable water, rationing was started on the
ship today. Darwin described land iguanas on the island in some
detail. Many giant iguana were caught and killed for food. The
next day was passed at Banks Cove.
Beagle sailed around the northern tip of Albermarle on the 3rd,
and anchored off Punta Flores. In the morning the Beagle sailed
towards Abingdon Island, but due to very strong and erratic
currents they ended up forty miles off course to the west.
few days were spent trying to get back on course but the currents
were very irregular in the area and caused much delay. More
strong currents prevented the Beagle from reaching Abingdon
Island, so Capt. FitzRoy ordered a course change towards the
northern shore of James Island. Along the way the Beagle passed
near Tower Island in the morning and Bindloe Island at sunset.
H.M.S. Beagle anchored at the northern tip of James Island on
October 8th. Some of the crew went on shore and met up with
a party of Spanish settlers salting fish and extracting oil
Chaffers, Charles Johnson (midshipman) and six others set off
on a boat to survey Bindloe, Abingdon and Tower Islands.
of the specimens Darwin collected from the Galapagos:
buzzard, two owls, three flycatchers, one Sylvicola, three
species of mockingbirds, one species of finch, one swallow,
one dove, 13 species of finches (Darwin remarked how fascinated
he was by the beak gradations, but the variation of finches
confused Darwin a great deal), one turtle, one tortoise, four
lizards (sea and land iguanas and two other types), four snakes,
and very few insects.
Darwin was very anxious to go exploring so he, Syms Covington
(Darwin's servant), Benjamin Bynoe (acting surgeon) and H. Fuller
(Bynoe's servant) stayed behind on James Island. They went with
the Spaniards to a circular salt lake to collect salt. Darwin
commented that all the plants and animals had rather dull coloration,
and were not particularly beautiful. The Beagle set sail for
Chatham to get fresh water but the currents slowed them down.
other things, I collected every plant, which I could see in
flower, & as it was flowering season I hope my collection
may be of some interest to you. - I shall be very curious to
know whether the Flora belongs to America, or is particular.
I paid also much attention to the Birds, which I suspect are
very curious." Charles Darwin, Letter to Revd.
John Henslow January 1836.
the evening of the 9th H.M.S. Beagle was back at the southeast
corner of Chatham Island and the next morning a party went on
shore to get fresh water. A few days were spent at this island
taking on more fresh water, cutting fire wood and hunting tortoises.
FitzRoy noted how much cooler and wetter it was on this side
of the archipelago compared to the western side where it was
dry and hot.
on James Island Darwin commented on tortoises hissing and dropping
like a rock when passed, and on him riding them and not being
able to keep balance. He described the variations of lizards,
but Darwin did not hint at why variations should exist in these
species. He did field tests with one iguana by tossing it in
a pool of water in some lava rocks, noting that it returned
directly to where he stood every time. He theorized that the
lizard knows dry land is a safe place to be, and that water
was dangerous. As for insects, Darwin was sadly disappointed
at how few there were. He remarked on the odd fact that nearly
all the birds have dull coloration (the flycatcher being the
only bright one). He was also told that there are certain trees
and plants that are found on one island but not at any of the
others - a very strange curiosity! Darwin said it never occurred
to him that islands so close together could have dissimilar
plants and animals. He simple did consider it to be an important
point at the time. This was why he did not label each animal
to the island it was found on, especially the Galapagos finches.
He also commented on the extreme tameness of the birds. Two
small tortoises were brought on board as pets today.
Beagle left Chatham Island on the 13th and after fighting heavy
winds in the morning and nearly crashing into the cliffs, the
Beagle set sail for Hood Island. On the way to Hood they almost
got stuck on some dangerous shoals. A small boat was set down
to pin point the exact location of these dangerous shoals. The
next day the Beagle anchored at Hood Island and after surveying
until noon they headed for the southern tip of Charles Island.
By sunset they were anchored at the western end of Charles Island.
Beagle later sailed to Post Office Bay and some crew members
went on shore to locate salt deposits. Some more of the crew
went onshore - this time to gather fire wood, dig up potatoes
and hunt pigs. In the afternoon, a schooner arrived at Charles
Island and dropped off a bag of letters from England. H.M.S.
Beagle left Charles Island in the evening and headed for Albermarle
the small birds that live on these lava-covered islands have
short beaks, very thick at the base, like that of a bullfinch.
This appears to be one of those admirable provisions of Infinite
Wisdom by which each created thing is adapted to the place for
which it was intended." -- Capt. Robert FitzRoy's
arrived on the 17th and the Beagle surveyed north along the
eastern shore of the island. At noon the Beagle took a detour
to Punta Cordova and picked up Darwin and the others left on
James Island the week before. Darwin brought aboard quite a
large haul of plants, animals, rocks and insects. In the afternoon
the Beagle returned to Albermarle Island and spent the night
sailing north along the coast.
Beagle continued surveying the eastern side of Albermarle Island
and in the afternoon of the 18th set sail for Abingdon Island
to pick up Chaffers, Johnson and the other six crew members
who had been surveying the area.
continued sailing towards Abingdon Island and while the currents
were still elusive, they were not as strong as they were before.
After picking up the smaller survey boats on the 19th, the Beagle
sailed to Wenman and Culpepper Islands to the north.
20th was spent surveying Wenman and Culpepper Islands. In the
evening the crew raised all sails and under a good strong wind
steered for the Island of Tahiti, 3,200 miles away.
this gradation and diversity of structure in one small, intimately
related group of birds, one might really fancy that from an
original paucity of birds in this archipelago, one species had
been taken and modified for different ends." Charles
Darwin, Journal of Researches, 2 edition, page 380.