Thursday, November 13, 2008

Galapagos - Bartolomé Island (Day 6)

Day 6 (Wednesday, Sept. 3rd) continued with our afternoon activity. This day turned out to be be one I was waiting for all my life. It was the day that I saw penguins in the wild for the first time. I love penguins, but up until now, I'd only seen them in captivity or on the television or movie screen.

Bartolomé Island (Spanish: Isla Bartolomé) is a volcanic islet in the Galápagos Islands just off Isla San Salvador’s Sullivan Bay coast. The tiny islet of Isla Bartolome is among the younger of the Galapagos Islands. With a total land area of just 1.2 sq km, this island offers some of the most beautiful landscapes in the archipelago.

One of the most famous landmarks in the Galapagos can also be found here, Pinnacle Rock, which is among the most frequently photographed vistas of this volcanic island chain.

Shown recently in the Hollywood movie ‘Master & Commander’, this towering rock face is actually an eroded lava formation. Formed when magma was expelled from an underwater volcano; the sea cooled the hot lava, which then exploded, only to come together and form this huge rock made up of many thin layers of basalt. Pinnacle Rock is considered to be the emblem of the Galapagos to many, and is one of the most recognizable sites here.

Tourists can get off on the island opposite Pinnacle Rock and then proceed to climb a 600m trail to Isla Bartolome’s 114m high summit. From here one is treated to some truly stunning views of Sullivan Bay, Isla San Salvador (Santiago), Pinnacle Rock and Islas Daphne.

Though a pretty desolate island with mostly dried shrubbery like candelabra cacti and a few lava lizards running about, what makes this island so special besides Pinnacle Rock is the fact that out here, one can spot the ever playful Galapagos Penguins, which are the second smallest penguin species in the world. They are the only penguin to cross the Northern Hemisphere which means they live more north than any other warm weather penguin.

Found near Pinnacle Rock’s shore or swimming in the waters around the Rock, these penguins are a joy to watch as they can be found nowhere else on earth, especially in such warm climates.
Our afternoon activity was a Zodiac ride along the coast searching for penguins and enjoying the geological formations. We saw several penguins on shore and playing in the water just a short distance away from our Zodiac.

After cruising along the coast we made a wet landing on the beach. We proceeded to cross the Isthmus that separates the two beaches found on Bartolomé. The Blue-Footed Boobies were diving for food on the other side of the beach. It was an amazing site to watch them dive into the water.

Following the hike, we had time for swimming and snorkeling with the penguins, sea lions, and tropical fish. So far, this was the best day of our cruise yet.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Im going next summer to Ecuador, but I didnt know about this island. I will look for a Galapagos tourist class yachts to Isla Bartolome, to do everything you did!!! I will go with my children, they will love it. Thanks for the info!!!!