Bartolomé Island and Chinese Hat

Dec 19, 2019 - National Geographic Endeavour II

This morning we were greeted by the marvelous landscape of Bartolomé Island, and some of us were admiring the change of colors as the sun rose up. Bartolomé is perhaps the most photographed landscape of the Galapagos Islands and is one of the very few spots that got its name after HMS Beagle’s Lieutenant Bartholomew Sulivan.

Our hike started early at 6:45 a.m., and we climbed up 376 stairs that took us through scoria and lava fields, where we admired the lava cactus, lava lizards, Galapagos locusts and the dry looking pioneer plant Tiquilia sp. At the very top of Bartolomé, our prize was waiting for us: the majestic landscape of Bartolomé’ two little beaches and its Pinnacle Rock, with the impressive lava fields of Sullivan Bay at the background.

After enjoying the views and the nice breeze, we started to hike back to the dock, and we saw more lava lizards on both sides of the stairs. Our Zodiac took us back to our ship where a delicious breakfast was ready. What a way to start our day!

After breakfast we had the option to go to the beautiful beach of Bartolomé and swim, snorkel or just relax on the warm sand. It was fantastic, the families were happy, the kids were playing, and the adults were day-dreaming—we had our private beach in paradise! At 10:00 a.m. we were back on our home, National Geographic Endeavour II.

At 10:30 our glass-bottom boat took some guests to enjoy the underwater world without having to get wet, and later the deep-water snorkelers had the option to explore the other side of Bartolomé Island. It was an awesome snorkeling excursion, we saw lots of sea stars, white-tipped reef sharks, parrotfish, damselfish, pufferfish and much more…including the Galapagos penguin! The water was turquoise, and a mild current took us slowly parallel to the rocky shoreline, so we just relaxed and enjoyed all that our magical islands gave to us. Our guests were so happy, we all had big smiles on our face.

After this awesome experience we came back onboard for lunch. Afterwards our photography instructor shared his knowledge and experience with those who are interested on photography. Afterwards we had a presentation about Charles Darwin’s life. While we attended the presentations, National Geographic Endeavour II took us to Sombrero Chino, this is a classic snorkeling spot in our Galapagos National Park Marine Reserve. The kayakers had the opportunity to explore the canal that separates Sombrero Chino from Santiago Island and the snorkelers had the pleasure to go into the water one more time.

At 5:00 we all had the chance to take a Zodiac ride to explore the beautiful emerald-blue waters of the canal. The light and the contrast of colors was breathtaking! The turquoise water met the black lava and the red of the carpetweed (Sesuvium sp.) and the white sand beaches made a magical composition with the blue sky. And the best part, we saw several Galapagos penguins resting on the rocks! It was a dream come true for many of our guests. We also saw tons of Sally Lightfoot crabs, sea lions and pelicans. It was just a perfect day in paradise.

We returned to our home, National Geographic Endeavour II, and we enjoyed sunset while reminiscing over the memories of the day.

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About the Author

Pablo Valladares


Pablo was born in Quito, capital of one of the most biodiverse countries in the world and has been captivated by nature for as long as he can remember.  His mother showed him his first giant tortoise when he was 5 years old and that image remained engraved in his mind.  At age 7, his father gave him a special gift:  a map of the Galapagos with drawings of penguins, sea lions, tortoises, pelicans and more.  Those images inspired him at an early age and led him to study Biology at Guayaquil University.  While at university, Pablo worked as a guide for Environmental Education Camps in the mountains of Ecuador.  Upon completing his degree, he travelled to Puerto Villamil, the small human settlement on Isabela Island to work as a volunteer with the Galapagos National Park Service’s Giant Tortoise Breeding Center for 6 months. During his free time, he also got involved with the Environmental Education Program run by the Charles Darwin Foundation Ecological Club, where he helped run outdoors, nature-based activities with the local children.  This combination of a passion for nature and working with the young eventually led to a full-time job with the Isabela branch of the Charles Darwin Foundation, where he worked for 8 years in different programs supporting Galápagos Conservation. It was during this time that he first learned about Lindblad Expeditions, as he would bring kids from the local ecological clubs on board the National Geographic Islander to perform theatrical pieces about Galapagos conservation issues that they had prepared specifically!

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