Sombrero Chino and Santiago Islands

Aug 17, 2018 - National Geographic Islander

We woke up anchored near Sombrero Chino Island and kayaked both prior to and after breakfast on the canal between Santiago Island and Sombrero Chino. We also snorkeled and rode Zodiacs along the shore. We saw a shield volcano; broad and low in altitude. Its lava pours out at 1600 degrees Celsius and looks like molten chocolate layers laid horizontally. The result is an impressive landscape. On the way to the lava field we spotted several endemic Galapagos penguins, the second smallest penguins in the world.

In the afternoon, we sailed to Sullivan Bay on the southeast end of Santiago Island. Here we landed on a pahoehoe lava field and observed all the designs nature provides. No two lava fields are alike. There are some imprints left by trees that have vaporized on top of the molten lava. As they vaporized, the tree cooled the lava and this has allowed rust to set in. As we walked, we saw parasite volcanoes of volcanic ash, scoria rocks, and rivers of lava frozen in time. When we returned, we had a fabulous BBQ dinner on the top deck.

 Another day in paradise ends.

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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.

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