Bartolome and Rabida Island

Dec 23, 2019 - National Geographic Islander


The week began with great weather conditions; around December, the water turns warm and the seas very calm. Many animals, such as boobies and iguanas start to mate and reproduce. Today we visited Bartolome Island, an incredible place to learn about the geology of the Galapagos. This archipelago is one of the 52 hot spots in the world; it is part of the ring of fire and one of the most active volcanic ranges in the world. Bartolome is made of pyroclastic material, ash known as tuff and basaltic lava. A parasitic volcano stands right in the middle of the island, and it has produced different volcanic formations such as cinder cones, spatter cones, and lava flows. On our walk to the island’s peak, you have a breathtaking view, and it’s one of the most spectacular settings in Galapagos.

The equatorial location of the Galapagos lends to a unique ecosystem and weather conditions, both on land and in the sea. After the hike we returned to our ship and suited up for snorkeling in the nearby beautiful beach where penguins and multicolored fish swam within the coral and rocks. Other guests explored along the deeper waters of the coast. The deep-water snorkeling was amazing too. Guests saw many types of sea stars, warm and cold-water fish, and sharks. In the afternoon, we moved to Rabida Island where an astonishing red beach is home to many sea lions. A few feet behind this beach is a brackish water lagoon where greater flamingos can be found feeding on the very nutrient-rich carotenoid shrimp. Some other lagoon birds like pintail ducks and wandering tattlers were also observed swimming in this pool. A few of our intrepid guests explored the coast of Rabida on kayaks, having close encounters with playful sea lions, sea turtles, and rays along the shore.

Many activities were offered, and some guests decided to go snorkeling one more time in the crystal turquoise waters. Every wildlife exposure may present differently, and this time, guests saw several white-tipped reef sharks and green turtles. The rocky bottom is rich in benthonic life and an abundance of miniature creatures live in the coral, rocks or sand bed.

We closed our day waiting for sunset, tasting wine on the sundeck, and celebrating our successful first full day of exploration in this magical archipelago.

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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.

About the Videographer

Andres Cruz

Video Chronicler

Andrés grew up in Floreana, an island with 150 inhabitants in the Galápagos Archipelago. Living without internet, television or cellphones encourages him to become a creative observer and a nature lover. He spent most of his childhood interacting with giant tortoises, lizards, penguins, finches and other creatures while exploring his surroundings.

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