Sombrero Chino & Santiago Islands

Jul 20, 2018 - National Geographic Islander

Today we visited Sombrero Chino and enjoyed viewing the Bainbridge Rocks, which are striking parasitic cones on Santiago Island. They are believed to have been formed a long time ago, when the sea level was lower in the area. Sombrero Chino when translated to English is “Chinese Hat.” It has an extended peculiar shape that looks like a huge hat, similar to ones worn in some regions of China.  This unusual, yet noticeable shape is common in oceanic islands of volcanic origin. These kinds of formations are called shield volcanoes. 

Just before breakfast, we explored the area by kayak. After breakfast, a took a very successful Zodiac ride and had the chance to cover a relatively long distance, where we admired the astonishing volcanic landscape and looked for wildlife. Lava herons, noddy terns, Galapagos shearwaters, and Galapagos sea lions were photographed. Just when we were coming back to the ship, we finally spotted a single Galapagos penguin. That was a delight. Once onboard we put on our snorkeling gear to continue exploring the area, but this time by going deep-water snorkeling. The underwater world in this location was incredible today, as it was sunny and the water was very clear and warm. At lunchtime, the ship repositioned itself to the south of the fourth largest island of the Galapagos archipelago, Santiago Island. On our way to Santiago Island, we sailed near Bainbridge Rocks and spotted, in the distance, a few greater flamingos on an inner brackish water lake inside the crater. 

In the afternoon, after our young explorer’s photo presentation, we learned about Charles Darwin, and then headed to Sullivan Bay, located on Santiago Island. We had a fascinating hike on a recent lava flow. The lava we observed today is believed to be a little more than one hundred years old. It came from an eruption witnessed in 1897. Most of the hike was over smooth pahoehoe, or ropy lava, with many a’a lava patches here and there. Along the way, we observed some volcanic formations like cinder cones, spatter cones, and hornitos, or mini craters.  As the day was came to an end, we returned to the ship with the light of the sunset. As a golden finale, we had a BBQ dinner, served on the sky deck. The end of another day in Paradise…

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About the Author

Antonio Adrian

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Antonio is Ecuadorian, although he was raised in Catalonia. He has been a naturalist in the Galápagos since 1994. He studied sciences in a boarding school in England for two years, and he spent four years in medical school in Spain. He then dropped out, to follow Darwin’s footsteps around the wide world.

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