Sombrero Chino

After breakfast we enjoy a zodiac ride along the channel between Santiago Island and a small volcanic cone known as Sombrero Chino. The water is turquoise blue in appearance and beautifully clear. We’re looking for fish, marine iguanas, shore birds and, hopefully, the Galapagos penguin. There is a snorkeling option too and some of us head to a tiny white sand beach for a nature walk along the coast and simply to chill out. The view is tremendous, across the channel to the 100-year old lava flow on Santiago. We can see black lava for miles and miles. As we’re sitting on the beach and some guests swimming, two penguins swim past at speed. Sea lions are playing too and a young sea lion is also fast asleep on the sand.

Back on board Islander we cruise-by Bainbridge Islet on our way north. Bainbridge is an almost-complete volcanic caldera where brackish water has seeped into the crater. By standing on our top Sky Deck we can just about see over the caldera edge into the crater and we’re looking for flamingoes! We see something pink, but that turns out to be a floating buoy someone put there years ago. However as we sail past and the angle changes, we do see quite a few flamingoes. Breeding is obviously going well this year – in recent years we’ve only seen one or none! We’re lucky this year, but Furlongs Travel was taking no chances just in case. There’s always a Plan B, and Richard had an inflatable pink flamingo hidden and ready for action. The lengths your tour operator goes to!

After lunch, our expedition leader Lynn Fowler gave a very interesting presentation about her experiences living on Volcan Alcedo on Isabella Island doing her PhD research. It’s a fascinating story, Richard has heard it 15 times and still enjoys it! Later afternoon we land at Sullivan Bay. We have sailed over two hours from our morning visit and we’re still looking over the same lava flow! The volcanic eruption took place in 1897 and was clearly significant. We walk a loop trail just over one mile, across the pahoehoe (ropey) lava, taking care as we go. The patterns and formations are wonderful.

Tonight a BBQ dinner served al fresco on the Sky Deck. The Chef, galley team and restaurant staff have done an incredible job taking everything up three floors to lay out the buffet for us. And the chef knows how to BBQ too! While we dine, someone spots some pretty impressive Galapagos Sharks circling our ship. Three of them, around 6 to 8 feet in length. We’re not on their menu but perhaps they can smell the chicken?! Graceful and immensely impressive (the sharks, not our guests).