Chinese Hat and James or Santiago Islands

Dec 21, 2018 - National Geographic Islander

As the sun rose in the horizon, we found ourselves anchored between Chinese Hat and James Islands in a canal where we snorkeled, kayaked and rode Zodiacs along the shore.  Some of our guests had the option of visiting a white sandy beach. Chinese Hat is an old shield volcano while Sullivan Bay is formed of new pahoehoe Lava.

In the afternoon, we visited one of the biggest lava fields from an eruption that occurred in 1897 in the Galapagos. This molten iron covered the previous vegetation, an example of this is seen in an imprint of a tree that is perfectly molded and vaporized leaving its form intact and orange colored from rusting. This occurred because while vaporizing the tree, lava cooled and did not vitrify as the rest of the field, which is pitch black. The walk on lava makes your mind wonder and imagine many forms in the lava just as we see forms in clouds. We were also able to observe how plants colonize newly formed land and start the process of soil formation.

  • Send

About the Author

Fabian Bucheli


Fabian Bucheli studied at the German School in Quito, graduated from the University of California with a bachelor of science in administration, and earned a master’s degree in international management from Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona. He has studied in Germany, France, Belgium, and Austria and is fluent in German, French, English, and Spanish. He has always been in love with nature and conservation. Explaining abstract concepts became second nature as a teaching assistant in biodiversity and evolution (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) while working towards a PhD in environmental risk management.

About the Videographer

Ashley Karitis

Video Chronicler

Ashley was raised in Central Oregon where she spent her childhood ski racing, riding horses, playing classical piano, and working summer jobs on a dude ranch. She then attended the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles earning degrees in cinema-television, history, and international relations. Although immersed in the studies of narrative filmmaking, she gravitated toward the process, deeper on-camera conversations, and scientific and human themes explored in documentary production.

Get our newsletter

Join us for updates, insider reports & special offers.

Privacy Policy