Sombrero Chino & Santiago Islands

Aug 18, 2017 - National Geographic Islander


We awakened with a strong sun warming all and a cool breeze blanketing the land. We started our day searching the coastline for any sign of life as we encountered a Great blue heron and a mass of marine iguanas sunning themselves, trying to become active to raise their temperatures. The surrounding terrain is incredible because we are close to a massive lava flow that is only 118 years old. A small forest of Candelabra cacti standout as they were present prior to the flow and were untouched by it. A wonderful snorkeling outing shows us quite a few species with a very large manta ray standing out. Heading into the afternoon we land on this new lava terrain and the details of its formation are revealed. As the sun heads towards the horizon, beams shoot through the cloud cover and illuminate numerous Galapagos penguins along the coast as they, one by one, exit the water after their foraging runs. 

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About the Author

Jason Heilmann

Expedition Leader

Growing up in northern California, Jason was surrounded by the incomparable nature of the Pacific Northwest. While attending university there, Jason met and eventually married an Ecuadorian woman who happened to be from a small group of islands off the coast of western South America. It was thus that Jason’s path led him to Ecuador and, in time, to one of the most revered natural environments on earth, the Galápagos Islands.

About the Photographer

Jason Heilmann and Benjamin Ayala

Jason Heilmann and Benjamin Ayala

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