From the National Geographic Islander in Galápagos
May 7, 2012 - National Geographic Islander
Bartolomé & Rabida
The beautiful silhouette of Bartolomé Island lies not far from our anchorage this morning. Although a small island, it is full of geological features, making it one of the most popular visitors’ sites in the Galápagos archipelago. After an early wake-up, we set foot on its landing dock, ready to conquer the summit of this little island after a hike up nearly 400 wooden steps! As we ascend, we start discovering the numbers of parasitic cones that cover Bartolomé, most of which belong to a type called spatter cone. The cindery slopes of the island are covered by a small, grey mat plant, and all along the way we were accompanied by the abundant endemic lava lizards, which had already started to warm themselves up in the morning sunshine. At the top of Bartolomé, we were awarded with one of the most famous landscapes of the Galápagos: that of nearby ‘Pinnacle Rock’ standing in the middle of Sullivan Bay. Quite unexpectedly, several juvenile Galápagos hawks decided to approach us, totally curious about our presence in their domains. After the hike we returned on board for breakfast, and then back into the Zodiacs that dropped us off at the beach. This became our base for the rest of the morning, and a gorgeous base it was: with its golden sands, ochre-colored rocks and blue sea, Bartolomé here looks like a postcard. Our fearless snorkelers explored the surrounding coast, and had close encounters with some local Galápagos penguins, rays, as well as several species of fish and sea stars. It was an incredible outing! And this was just the morning…
Towards midday, the National Geographic Islander had to reposition. We navigated towards the west, dropping anchor at Rabida Island. Here, we had a chance again to enjoy the warm sea, as several options were given. Some of our guests decided to explore the reddish coast of Rabida from our ocean kayaks, while others preferred to snorkel and repeat the fascinating experience of the morning. Both activities proved to be a success, and everyone returned very happy! Rabida is a small island that has a lot to offer, something we definitely experienced once we landed on the island. For a start, the color of its lavas is a striking red, which poses a huge contrast to the abundant greenery that covers the island this time of year. Then, behind the landing beach, we found a small lagoon that was the home to some greater flamingos. We found them walking gracefully along the shoreline, with their beaks submerged in the brackish waters of the lagoon while filtering the minute shrimps they like best. Then, we climbed up to higher grounds in order to admire the sun setting behind the volcanoes of distant Isabela. All along the trail there was something happening: hawks would fly above our heads, possibly preying upon the many lava lizards on the ground; juvenile Darwin finches would keep looking for their favorite seeds; some Galápagos mockingbirds would fly low over our heads while patrolling their territories. Of course, all these species seemed not to mind our presence at all, and it is this fearlessness that has made the Galápagos a special and unique place on our planet.