Santiago’s Chinese Hat

Mar 15, 2019 - National Geographic Islander


We begin this day early with some stretching and a swimming session off the shores of Sombrero Chino (or Chinese Hat) on Santiago Island. This is followed by kayaking and Zodiac rides to explore the wildlife and the volcanic landscape that defines this island before we board for breakfast.

We continue our expedition underwater, snorkeling along Santiago’s coast. This is a place of immense beauty and rich with life. The best of Galapagos’ marine wildlife gathers here: sharks, rays, and other tropical fish share this area with penguins. Two worlds come together. We love it.

Back aboard and en route to the next destination, we stand at the sun deck, observing while we pass a crater filled with brackish water and healthy community of Caribbean flamingoes.

The afternoon prepares us for the visit of Santiago’s Sullivan bay, where an eruption in the late 1800’s expanded the bay’s lava surface substantially. It is simply vast, an expanse of rich, black lava at all angles. It will not be long (another hundred years, perhaps?) before plants and animals begin to colonize and life’s course will play out over this astounding archipelago once more.

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About the Author

Patricio Maldonado

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Patricio, better known as Pato amongst his friends, was born in the Galápagos Island. His family moved to the islands from the mainland and settled on the island of Santa Cruz over thirty-five years ago. Pato had an enchanted childhood in the islands, where his keen interest in the wildlife of the Galápagos was born initially through catching lizards and observing how they lost their tails. His experiences in the islands have led him to teach visitors about the need to protect this rare and unique environment.

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