Sombrero Chino and Santiago Islands

Jan 31, 2020 - National Geographic Islander

Today we visited two islands, which although close in proximity, have their own beauty and uniqueness. This morning we had a kayak outing and Zodiac ride within the canal between Sombrero chino and the coast of Santiago Island. As we approached the coast of Santiago, our Zodiac driver Maximo spotted our first set of Galapagos penguins in the water, and luckily enough, we spotted a juvenile penguin on land. On the southeastern side of Santiago Island, we also observed a small colony of penguins that nest in the lava tubes close to the shoreline.

Later, while snorkeling we saw many parrotfish, brown striped salemas, and one whitetip shark, but the highlight was the penguin feeding frenzy! They could not care less that we were in the water and swam busily among us as they chased sardines and salemas – just like if we were part of their surroundings.

In the afternoon, National Geographic Islander repositioned to the northeastern part of Santiago to visit Sullivan bay. The hike here was on young lava flows from 1897, geologically speaking, one-day-old lava. We could see beautiful formations of the pahoehoe, ropy lava, and hornitos which are small ovens that form when hot lava touches cold water; the outside surface is very shiny, just like glass. At the end of our trail, it was amazing to see how lava engulfed a red scoria cone. It was like seeing a lava river that froze right in front of the reddish cone!

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About the Author

Magdalena Terneus


Magdalena Terneus has always been passionate about nature, and an animal lover ever since she can remember.   Magdalena studied Natural Science- Biology at Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania on a full scholarship, with the idea of working as a naturalist guide in the Galapagos Islands.  After graduating from Lock Haven, she went back to Ecuador and worked in the La Selva Lodge in the Ecuadorean rain forest.   After working in the rain forest, she took the Galapagos guide course, so she could work as a guide in the Galapagos Islands.

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