From the National Geographic Endeavour in the Galapagos
Oct 4, 2012 - National Geographic Endeavour
Bartolome & Sombrero Chino Islands
Although in the middle of the cool, dry season, we have been enjoying some magnificent weather this week. We set off early this morning to hike to the summit of Bartolome Island. We followed a long wooden staircase from which we could observe endless volcanic features like lava tubes, spatter cones, craters and cindery slopes. As the sun rose and the air began to warm up the first lava lizards made an appearance. At the top of Bartolome we could contemplate the amazing landscapes of various lava fields of different ages dominating this majestic panorama.
Later in the morning, we visited the beach next to the famous Pinnacle Rock, an impressive column of tuff rock. A small colony of endemic Galapagos penguins inhabits this beautiful area; we spotted a couple of them while they were busily hunting schools of small fish. A few Galapagos sea lions doze at the edge of the beach, while a couple of American oystercatchers and a great blue heron made the most amongst the exposed rocks of the low tide. In the morning sunshine our fearless snorkelers set off to investigate the underwater world around the Pinnacle Rock. It was an exciting experience for everyone: swimming marine iguanas and Galapagos penguins, Panamic and chocolate chip sea stars, reef sharks, parrot fishes amongst many other creatures were spotted in this colorful bay.
In the afternoon, we were surrounded by a new landscape. We anchored by Sombrero Chino, a small islet offshore Santiago Island. Recent volcanic activity has created a massive, black lava flow in this area. It is along this inhospitable coastline where we had a chance to snorkel once again; one can never have enough of the amazing marine creatures of these islands!
Then, an exploration by Zodiac was due; this allowed us to get close to some of the species that have been elusive during the day, now that their hunting time was over. On some rocks, we could see a couple of Galapagos penguins; not far, a yellow-crowned night heron moved around the sally light-foot crabs while a small colony of Galapagos sea lions relaxed on the beach. Some candelabra cacti in a patch of arid terrain looked like some ‘wild west’ movie set. We are at the heart of the Galapagos archipelago; soon we will set course north to discover more of the wonders of the Enchanted Isles.