Bartholomew Island and Chinese Hat

Sep 26, 2019 - National Geographic Endeavour II


We started our day hiking on Bartholomew Island, a place known as an open book to geology, where we learned about the different volcanic features that started holding the base of primary succession of our endemic ecosystems. Pioneer plants and small volcanic cones were spotted on the way up to the top of the island. At the highest peak, we encountered a breathtaking landscape of Bartholomew north and south beach, with green mangroves in between. After breakfast, we went snorkeling off a sandy beach and as we swam further into the deep water, we spotted a large variety of fish suspended along the vertical walls of the tuff cone that created Pinnacle Rock. A couple of white-tipped reef sharks were also spotted as well as marbled rays and sea lions. Some of our guests chose the option to experience our glass-bottom boat, where you can learn about the marine life in the islands and not getting wet.

After lunch, our captain lifts the anchor one more time and we motored to Chinese Hat. This is a small parasitic island off the coast of James or Santiago Island. The southwestern part of Santiago is an extensive black lava field formed in 1897, geologically speaking it is very young. We went to snorkel first, along the black lava field, as the water was calm and clear. This was definitely was of the best snorkeling outings of our trip—every single one of them is different, but this one was full of dense schools of fish and some reef sharks sleeping within the underwater caves. Some Galapagos penguins were fishing in the water while some sea birds were just basking under the sun and drying their feathers off to spend the night on rocks or trees.

Later we went out again to experience a Zodiac ride along the coast of Santiago Island and Chinese Hat. it was great to find Galapagos penguins basking on the rocks before returning to the caves where they spend the night. The light was good for photography and we enjoyed the colors of the late afternoon.

Penguins, sea lions, sharks and fish of all colors and sizes made this day, one great expedition on land and under the sea.
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About the Author

Christian Saa

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Christian was born on the island of Isabela in the Galápagos archipelago. He grew up on a farm and had a magical childhood devoid of cars, electricity, telephones—just pure nature and playful sea lions along the beach. At the age of seven, he moved with his family to Santa Cruz Island, the economic hub of the Galápagos Islands. His father began to work in tourism and took Christian around the islands during school vacations. It was during this time that Christian learned to love and understand the real value of this unique archipelago, and he decided to devote his life to its stewardship. A lifelong passion for nature and its creatures took root in his heart, and he eventually decided to become a naturalist, which he has now been doing for 18 years now.

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