Thursday evening after dinner, we sailed in a north easterly direction to the tiny island of Bartolome. It is located off the eastern shore of Santiago (James) island.
See map: http://www.ecuadorexplorer.com/html/galapagos_interactive_map.html . It’s an interactive map and clicking on the ‘visitor’s sites’ will reveal the name of the island and key info about the area.
That evening we were up on deck and the catamaran was anchored in front of the infamous Pinnacle Rock. What a breath taking view …… a silhouette of this amazing volcanic structure against a background of thousands of tiny diamonds glittering in the sky.
The next morning, after a scrumptious breakfast, we climbed into the dingy and headed for Sullivan Bay which is on Santiago/James Island).
Enroute we stopped to watch Galapagos Penguins sunning on a rocky ledge. They assumed the characteristic pose … faces pointed towards the sun and ‘arms’ out at their sides as if they were carrying suitcases. They were trying to get warm.
The Galapagos Penguin is the third smallest penguin species in the world and lives only in the Galapagos Islands. There are different schools of thought regarding their origin. Perhaps the Galapagos species originated from the extreme southern part of South America known as Chilean Patagonia. There remains the question ....How did penguins arrive at the equator? Did they follow the cold waters of the Humboldt Current to the Galapagos Islands? Were they stranded there after the ice age?
After a slippery dry landing at Sullivan Bay, we hiked the lava fields for ~ 2 hours.
The black rope-like lava was extremely hot under the equatorial sun.
We were advised not to wear crocs or flip flops as they would melt.
A geological perspective indicated that this lava field was ‘recently formed’. It is thought that the last eruption took place around 1890. The hill covered in vegetation illustrates what the present lava field may look like in ~ 125 years from now. During an eruption, lava ‘oozed out of the ground as opposed to exploding into the sky.
We spent ~ 2 hours on the lava fields. Most would agree that ~30 minutes on the lava field would have been more than enough time.
The snorkeling excursion off the beach was quite an experience. We were hot from the hike and eager to cool off. We followed our guide’s advice and snorkeled to the right …and we dutifully followed one another and within minutes there was a mass exodus out of the water as the green moss-like stuff started stinging us ……… a weird type of jellyfish. I felt sorry for our new ‘snorkelers’ … what an introduction to snorkeling!! This was the only time we saw jellyfish.
Snorkeling off the left side of the beach made up for the stingies as we were entertained by Galapagos Penguins!! What an amazing experience it was to have a penguin swim up to you and ‘look you in the eyes’ before swimming away!
The time in the water was too short and a few of us grumbled and complained when we had to get out (just like kids wanting to stay out just a ‘little bit’ longer).
The anchor was pulled up and the boat headed to Bartolome.
Enroute, the Magnificent Frigatebirds hitched a ride and there was no way I was going to have a nap and miss this.
After lunch was siesta time until ~ 3:00 pm. We visited the beach and had a short snorkel. I can still hear folks pleading with Liz to give us more time in the water. It was explained that the animals need time to rest as well as tourists.
We returned to the boat and everyone changed into their hiking clothes. The plan was to hike 375 steps to the summit of an old volcano on Bartolome which is considered your ‘basic moonscape’.
The group was gone for ~ an hour and a half and during that time I watched them and the ‘birds’.
The Brown Pelicans were fishing off a small boat. The Magnificent Frigatebirds harassed the Brown Pelicans and Blue-footed Boobies and stole their fish when they opened their bills to ‘protest.
There was also a gathering of at least 25 Frigatebirds flying around the Pinnacle Rock.
The hike to the summit is considered the highlight of the tour as the panoramic views are spectacular.
As the sun went down, it was interesting to see the different color changes in Pinnacle Rock.
I was pleased to capture a couple of ‘sunset’ photos before dinner. The configuration of the clouds gave the appearance of a smoking volcano.
Prior to dinner we had our regular ‘briefing’ for the next day.
That evening we saw the sea lion that habitually boards the boat and spends the night there. Poor Christian was on “poop duty” the next morning.