When we reached the central islands of Bartolome and Santiago, we knew our day was going to be fantastic! We started with a pre-breakfast outing to visit Bartolome. This small tuff cone is the result of the volcanic eruptions of the main volcano of Santiago. Being a tuff cone, the island has eroded over the years, creating a fascinating diversity of shapes, textures, and colors. Bartolome Island is famous for Pinnacle Rock. This landmark is a great site for snorkeling, Zodiac tours, and glass-bottom boat rides to enjoy the shores of the volcanic cone.
Snorkeling on Bartolome Island is a unique experience. Guests can encounter sea lions, reef sharks, stingrays, and lots of fish. The seabed is covered by colorful sea stars and schools of fish. The opportunity to snorkel with penguins is always a highlight. These penguins are the second smallest and the northernmost species in the world. Penguins stay busy with fishing, and they swim like torpedoes underwater. When the penguins are curious, they come really close to check on snorkelers, giving guests plenty of time to take photographs. Only in the Galapagos Islands can one swim with penguins without wearing a dry suit!
Sombrero Chino, also known as Chinese Hat, is a volcanic cone on the southern side of Santiago Island. It is a secondary cone formed by the molten rock known as spatter cone. The shore of Sombrero Chino was once uplifted, so large pieces of coral are found on land. Sombrero Chino is another home to Galapagos penguins. Today, we were lucky to find a small colony of the endemic seabirds on the rocks. It was exciting to see them in the water and on the lava rocks. One thing is for sure: penguins have adapted incredibly well to life on the equator. They breed and nest on rocky terrain right beside candelabra cactus! We made fantastic memories as we observed penguins on lava rocks with cacti in the background! Such uniqueness is found on the Galapagos Islands.