Galapagos Cruise Report: Bartolomé and Santiago Islands

From the National Geographic Islander in Galápagos August 23, 2010

Bartolomé Island is known as a living book on geology. We began our day by discovering the most fascinating outlook in the archipelago. Of course getting there required some effort: an early disembarkation at 6:30am preceded climbing nearly 400 steps to the summit of this parasitic cone.

From the summit you could see the islands surrounding us, and all the different cones covered with lava, lava tubes, and the immense sea around them all, not to mention the impressive Pinnacle Rock, a highly eroded tuff cone. Everyone agreed the view was worth the early wake-up call and hike.

What about wildlife? Well, as soon as we landed we found two Galápagos penguins swimming around the dock, Sally lightfoot crabs brought a splash of color to the black lava, a baby Galápagos sea lion was sleeping in our disembarkation area, and a striated heron was spotted while it was trying to catch crabs! Bartolomé has a beautiful golden beach, which was the perfect place to begin our snorkeling outings for the week. The stars of the afternoon were the playful sea lions, but we also found sharks, rays, and all different kinds of colorful fish.

After a delicious Ecuadorian buffet and, in consequence, a traditional Ecuadorian siesta, we arrived at Santiago Island, where we had our first opportunity to kayak and had more time at the beach. Our walk started at around 4 o’clock. The trail took us to a beautiful volcanic formation of lava tubes that had collapsed, forming the spectacular pools that sea lions, turtles and fur seals enjoy. Our highlight was finding Galápagos fur seals, this second species of Pinnipeds hides from the sun by resting during the day in this kind of environment. On the way back to the ship, we found hundreds of marine iguanas covering the lava fields warming up before the day ends – so we did the same! We went back to our ship to warm up by enjoying our cocktail time and resting to get the energy for tomorrow, another great day in the islands!

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