Darwin Lake, Isabela Island
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
15 Days In The Galapagos Islands
Early this morning we pulled into Sullivan Bay between Santiago Island and the much smaller Bartolome Island. The sun was already up by the time we anchored. After our breakfast, we hopped on a Zodiac and left the Sea Star Journey/Domenica behind for a quick ride over to a landing spot on Bartolome.
Bartolome Island Hike/Walk
Our Zodiac crew dropped us off at the steps leading to a boardwalk. The noted Pinnacle Rock landmark protrudes from the bay in the background of the photo below.
It was a dry landing, and we started up the long boardwalk installed by the park service to prevent erosion.
Bartolome is the most-visited island in the Galapagos due to the scenic view at the top, the most recognizable landmark in the islands, Pinnacle Rock, and great snorkeling.
The boardwalk is about a third of a mile (600 meters) and climbs to the top of Bartolome at 375 feet (114 meters). It can be a difficult walk for those that don’t so such things very often, but the climb is worth it.
Along the way, Myra explained that Bartolome is a relatively young island, and we could see the remains of lava rivers that once flowed down the sides of the cone.
There was not much in the way of vegetation or wildlife except Lava Cactus, Lava Lizards, and the Large Painted Locust, an endemic insect that we would call a grasshopper back in the states.
Most of the walk was about the geology and volcanic activity of the island, but there were nice views all along the way as the boardwalk zig-zagged and climbed.
The prize for the effort to get to the top is the most beautiful, most photographed view in the Galapagos.
On a day when the sun was shining with just the right mix of clouds and colors, it was breathtaking. I must have taken thirty photos looking down on Pinnacle Rock and the isthmus separating two lovely bays with sandy beaches. It is a “don’t miss” spot during a Galapagos trip. Here are a few more photos from the top of Bartolome.
After admiring the beauty long enough, we started back down.
Approaching the landing, I took this shot of the sunken crater with Pinnacle Rock in the background.
Our Zodiac picked us up took us on a little boat tour around Pinnacle Rock.
Behind Pinnacle Rock in a cove with crystal clear water were a few Galapagos Penguins feeding on small fish. They were zooming around and under our Zodiac. I tried to video without much luck as they are extremely fast when they are chasing fish. But I managed to get a couple of decent photos.
Snorkeling Around Pinnacle Rock
Since our next excursion was snorkeling Linda declared she was going right back to that spot to snorkel with the penguins.
We proceeded to the yacht where we got changed for snorkeling. We grabbed our gear and were back on the Zodiac pretty quickly, although it was probably already a half an hour since we had seen the penguins before we were dropped off in the water.
Linda didn't care. She hit the water and immediately started paddling toward our previous penguin spotting. As soon as we were in the water, two penguins were there with us, but they didn't stay long, and I only got a couple of out-of-focus pictures.
By the time we got back to Pinnacle Rock, the penguins were gone. But there was some pretty good snorkeling along the way.
I pieced together some video clips from the snorkeling as well.
You may have noticed in our snorkeling videos, that Linda and I are wearing socks with our fins. That was a suggestion from one of our shipmates. It certainly isn't a fashion statement, but it does prevent blisters from ill-fitting fins, and provides more comfort and warmth.
We snorkeled from south of Pinnacle Rock to the pointed landmark and around it to the beach on the other side. When everyone was ready, our Zodiac picked us up and took us back to the ship where we were once again greeted with hot chocolate and snacks.
Following the pattern that had developed, we got showers, changed clothes, had lunch, and rested until it was time for our afternoon excursion.
Santiago Island Lava Walk
Our yacht re-positioned, and, when it was time, we once again boarded the Zodiac. It was a short ride and we were dropped off on the lava on Santiago Island.
We did a lava walk, with Myra explaining the two types of lava which are the same types found in the Hawaiian Islands - pahoehoe (pa-hoey-hoey) and aa (ah-ah).
The pahoehoe is a smoother-flowing lava that retains its heat and results in interesting formations like the “rope lava” we saw on our walk.
The aa lava is fast-flowing and loses heat rapidly under the surface creating tears in the surface and the lava piles up in angular, sharp chunks.
Here are a couple of looks at the Santiago Island lava fields. You can see the black of the more recent flows and the brown where the lava has broken down over time and soil and vegetation have replaced the hard lava.
In addition, to the lava, we looked at fissures and the various layers with different minerals resulting in different colors in each layer.
It was interesting and we enjoyed the walk, but we've done the "lava thing" in Hawaii, and we are more interested in animals.
I took one more photo as the Zodiac arrived to retrieve us.
It was early afternoon when we were back on the Domenica, and the crew didn't waste any time. They raised the anchor, and we started the long journey to our next stop. As we departed the area, Pinnacle Rock combined with other rock formations behind us and it looked like a giant “thumbs up”. We agreed.