Española Island is the oldest of the Galapagos Islands, as it sits on the southeastern end of the archipelago. The islands are of volcanic origin, formed because of the activity of a hot spot. As the Nazca Plate slides to the southeast over the volcano, new land area is produced and new islands develop. This means that the islands towards the northwest are the youngest, and those on the opposite end are the oldest.
National Geographic Endeavour II
Early in the morning, we came ashore to explore Bartolome Island, one of the most iconic places in the Galapagos. In the afternoon, we visited Chinese Hat, a very old scoria crater located at the foot of Santiago, not far from Bartolome Island. Our intrepid guests onboard National Geographic Endeavour II explored the terrestrial and marine worlds of Bartolome and Sombrero Chino. Our day began with an invigorating early morning hike to the summit of Bartolome. We climbed 376 steps to enjoy a breathtaking view from different angles. It was well worth the effort to get to the top! During the Zodiac ride to the disembarkation site, we observed a few seabirds hunting over the ocean, including boobies, pelicans, and noddy terns. Bartolome Island offers a diversity of geological formations, including volcanic ash and a plethora of spatter cones. Guests learned about some of the pioneer plants of the Galapagos, including the endemic lava cactus. Afterward, they explored the marine world surrounding Bartolome, coming face to face with whitetip reef sharks, penguins, rays, and a variety of tropical fish. In the afternoon, guests snorkeled around the coastline of the peculiarly shaped islet, Sombrero Chino. They swam with Galapagos penguins, tropical fish, and reef sharks. We concluded the day’s activities with a peaceful Zodiac ride along Sombrero Chino as we discussed the geology of the Galapagos and the unique wildlife found in the area. Photographers: Christian Saa and Walter Perez