Sombrero Chino & Sullivan Bay, Santiago Island

Sep 15, 2017 - National Geographic Islander


Another day in paradise! We woke up today with the magnificent view of Sombrero Chino and the Bainbridge Islets in front of our ship. These stunning parasitic cones of Santiago Island were probably formed a long, long time ago when the sea level was lower than it is nowadays. Sombrero Chino can be roughly translated into English as “Chinese Hat.” It has an extended peculiar shape that resembles a huge hat like the ones used in some regions in China.  This unusual yet striking shape is typically found in oceanic islands of volcanic origins. These kinds of formations are also known as “shield volcanoes.”

Right after breakfast we explored the area this using our Zodiac fleet. The Zodiac ride was a very successful one for we had the chance to cover a relatively long distance admiring the striking volcanic landscape and looking for wildlife. Several heron species, marine iguanas, Galapagos sea lions and a couple of very curious Galapagos Penguins were admired and photographed. The latter birds were seen swimming at a close range from the Zodiacs.

Once onboard we put on our snorkeling gear to continue exploring the area by practicing deep-water snorkeling.  The underwater world in this exotic location was as its best today, for it was sunny and the waters were crystal clear. We had great sightings, sea lions fishing, and several white tip reef sharks among many colorful species of tropical fish.

At lunch time, the ship was repositioned to the south of the fourth largest islands of the Galapagos archipelago, Santiago Island. On our way to Santiago Island we sailed near Bainbridge Rocks to spot, in the distance, some greater flamingos on an inner salty water lake inside the crater.

In the late afternoon after a Charles Darwin presentation, we disembarked at Sullivan Bay. We had an outstanding hike on fairly recent black lava flow. Most of the hike was over smooth “pahoehoe” or ropy lava with “aa” lava patches here and there. Once at home onboard, we had a wonderful BBQ dinner and a stargazing session that was a golden finale for an unforgettable day in this paradise. 

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About the Author

José Guerrero

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

José Guerrero Vela is an Ecuadorian permanent resident of the Galapagos. His mother was born in the islands and his grandfather was one of the first generation of teachers in the Galapagos, which has always inspired him to promote education as the main path to protect the archipelago.

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