Galapagos Islands Travel Blog

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Bartolome Galapagos

This is the single most visited place in the Galapagos. If you saw just one photograph of the islands before you came, it probably was of Bartolome’s Pinnacle Rock, towering over a perfect blue cove, lined by a copper-colored beach, and set off by the rugged profile of Santiago not far in the distance.

There are two sites on this small island: a hike up an extinct lava cone for a sweeping view of the nearby islands and a beach where snorkeling and birdwatching can be very good.

Bartolome Galapagos - Summit Trail

The landing for the summit trail is a dry one, directly from the panga onto a rock and concrete stairway from water level. The trail is 600 meters one way. It is a wonderfully designed and sturdily constructed boardwalk, built to preserve the fragile tuff cone surface from the erosion of thousands of visitor feet. The boardwalk steps are easy to manage, wide and not too high. There are several points where you can pause and look out at the increasingly spectacular view as you make the ascent.

All along the walk, you will be struck by the stark beauty around you. The gracefulness of the contours contrasts with the near-barrenness of the slope on which you climb. As you look closer, you will see the little lava lizards scampering across the ground or sitting on one of the small boulders that were blasted out of the throat of the now-extinct volcano that formed the island.

The wind picks up as you reach the very top of the island, so it’s best to bring a windbreaker here. There are several flat areas on which to stand and look all around you. There is nowhere else on the islands where you can get such a strong sense of the sheer number and variety of sizes of the islands of the Galapagos Travel. The nearest island you can see is Santiago, a few minutes away by boat. South are Santa Cruz, Baltra, and Seymour Norte. Rabida is to the southwest. And there are dozens of islets and large rocks protruding from the ocean’s surface.

The larger islands are dramatically colored, with the typical orange base, the sweeps of black lava, and the fringes of gray life. The ocean’s color ranges from nearly white at shorelines to turquoise to blue and gunmetal gray. The profiles of the land, the contours and dimensions, are endlessly fascinating and beautiful. Pinnacle Rock (about 70 meters high) at the mouth of the Bartolome cove sets off the scene admirably. The top of the island is very far above it, and you can easily see the frigate birds that use it as a roost between their raids on other birds.

Keep an eye on the water further out, too. On my latest visit, huge manta rays were leaping out of the water, turning somersaults as they emerged.