Sombrero Chino and Santiago Islands

Apr 27, 2018 - National Geographic Islander


Small, barren, symmetrical, and hat-like, Sombrero Chino is a beautiful little island. Old lava flows are starting to become colonized by cacti. Lichens have already gotten a good start on the surface. However, we are primarily here to enjoy the wonders of the undersea world. But to begin…a Zodiac ride after breakfast in search of Galápagos penguins. Unlike other penguin species, these are not found by the hundreds, not even by the dozens, but in pairs, if we are lucky. Snorkeling, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding was the aim of the morning, and in the afternoon, we changed locations to walk over newer, younger lava. In 1897 this flow emerged from a lateral vent of Santiago Island’s main volcano. It looks like it could have flowed out just 10 years ago—so uncolonized it is by vegetation, or eroded by weather. Our best human sculptors can only copy in marble the marvels that Mother Nature gifts us in her ripples, folds, and bends in basalt.

  • Send

About the Author

Cindy Manning

Expedition Leader

Born in Lima, Peru, of North American parents, Cindy and her family subsequently lived in several South American and European countries with a couple stops in Peoria, Illinois. Cindy received a degree in biology from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana. Afterwards, Cindy spent a year and a half teaching science in the Western Province of Kenya, East Africa. 

Get our newsletter

Join us for updates, insider reports & special offers.

Privacy Policy