When visiting the Galapagos islands you expect your visit to be full of close encounters with giant tortoises, marine iguanas, sea lions and great frigate birds. But one of my favourite landing sites had no wildlife. Except for the odd aptly named lava lizard and a cactus here and there.

The moon-like lava flow landscape

Stepping off the panga in Sullivan Bay you would be forgiven for thinking you’d stepped onto another planet. Spatter and cinder cones around the bay and the volcanic landscape of Bartholome island surrounded us and it feels very barren and moon-like. And then we looked down to see the incredible detail of the pahoe hoe lava flow here twisting and turning into fascinating formations – erosion is incredibly slow so the lava is preserved. The lava flow was formed within seven years of eruption from 1897 – 1904 and we could clearly see the layers of lava where it has spilt and cracked. The landscape is bizarre but spectacular and we walked across the trail onto the lava flow to examine the cracks and patterns the lava had created.

As my Galapagos Island cruise did not visit the more volcanically active islands of Isabela and Fernandina in the west of the archipelago, I thought this landing site on Santiago was a wonderful surprise and a superb experience. It’s a great taster of the kind of scenery for anybody not visiting those volcanic western islands. It also a great spot for snorkelling near the beach and to go searching in a panga for the Galapagos penguin around Pinnacle Rock on Bartholome island. I thought it was great to see a really important part of the Galapagos islands landscape even though my cruise was not concentrating on the more volcanic islands.

I’d thoroughly recommend including Santiago Island as part of your Galapagos cruise!!


Guy Marks

Guy first caught the travel bug (amongst other things) when he drove from the UK to Cape Town in the early 80’s. His early career saw him involved in agriculture and culminated with a stint in the city as a commodity broker before he threw in the towel and made travel his life.