Sombrero Chino and Santiago Island

Jul 05, 2019 - National Geographic Islander

Having traveled northbound during the night, we arrived in Sombrero Chino in the early morning hours. This odd-shaped island is separated from Santiago, the fourth largest island of the archipelago, by a narrow, shallow channel. In 1897, a large eruption produced volumes of lava that extended the southeastern coast of Santiago, annexing some nearby satellite islands. The result is a vast and stunning volcanic landscape with little vegetation cover.

In the afternoon, we dropped anchor in Sullivan Bay, a short distance from Sombrero Chino. The area was formed by the same eruption over a hundred years ago. Exploring this location is an unforgettable experience; with every step we could observe beautiful formations left by the path of flowing lava. Texture of solidified lava is determined by its temperature. Smooth, ropey-looking lava is called pahoehoe, and a more jagged texture is known as A-A. The beauty of this area with its ochre colors and fresh craters and cones makes this an iconic panorama of the Enchanted Isles.

  • Send

About the Author

Gaby Bohorquez


Gaby was born and raised in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Her first job in the Galapagos was on board a 90-passenger cruise ship as the cruise director’s assistant, and she fell under the spell of the Enchanted Isles. She returned to Guayaquil to study at the Espiritu Santo Technological University to obtain a degree in Tourism Management. Her fascination for the islands was still strong so, after finishing her studies, Gaby took the opportunity to join the Naturalist Guide’s course, jointly organized by the Galapagos National Park Service and the Charles Darwin Research Station. That was back in 1992, and she has been a naturalist since, keeping her deep love and passion for the islands during all these years.

About the Photographer

Vanessa Gallo


Vanessa Gallo’s grandparents arrived in the Galápagos Islands in 1936, making her the third generation of her family to live and work in this magical archipelago. She left the islands for the capital city of Quito for high school, where she discovered that learning foreign languages was one of her main interests. Coming from a family of naturalist guides, it was not a surprise that she also became one at the age of 17. Vanessa left the islands once again for Switzerland, where she earned a diploma in tourism and strengthened her language skills and knowledge of the travel industry. She has also travelled extensively to destinations including as Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, Canada, the Canary Islands, Mauritius, and many European countries.

Get our newsletter

Join us for updates, insider reports & special offers.

Privacy Policy