Home > Galápagos Islands > Bartolome Island, a moonwalk in the Galapagos

Bartolome Island, a moonwalk in the Galapagos

Tuesday morning.  The Reception area aboard Metropolitan Touring’s Galapagos flagship, the M/V Santa Cruz is crowded with tourists from the United States, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Brazil and Ecuador.  We are all eager to disembark for one more day of discovery in the fascinating Galapagos Islands, and this morning’s outing promises new and exciting emotions…..

The group of the Dolphins is first to disembark and there we go, Anita, Daniel and myself with a dozen other travelers from three continents.  Vanessa is our naturalist guide. She is a native islander and loves her work and her splendid birthplace..  Marco, the first officer, oversees from the top of the gangway the disembarkation process. Each one of us is provided with orange colored life vests. The friendly crew exudes happiness and exchanges amiable phrases with each one of the explorers, as they help us getting safely into the black Zodiacs, waiting alongside the ship.  We must embark and disembark totally “free-handed”. The crew brings down our day packs and other objects aboard the landing craft, locally called “pangas” and we set off towards the small yet beautifully strange island of Bartolome (or Batholomew, as originally baptized by 17th century British corsairs)…

The sun, still climbing from the eastern horizon, somehow blurs with its brightness the volcanic landscape in front of us.  We reach the rocky shoreline and Carlos skillfully docks the “panga” along a small and simple lava and cement jetty.  With the aid of the crew and Vanessa we land and rapidly move away from the little dock, to allow the rest to make their way on shore…

As we start walking on a progressively steeper gradient, there is no question as to why the scenery of this island is called the “moonscape”…  To our right, vast fields of grayish volcanic ash, only dotted with a bizarre matt plant, the endemic “tikilia”, provide us with a living testimony of how volcanic materials begin to be colonized by plants, adapted to the harshest conditions…

We climb slowly while Vanessa teaches us a magisterial lesson of geology… Actually the island of Bartolome is a true open textbook of geology and volcanism. The views in front of our eyes get more and more dramatic… Ash fields, spatter (explosion ) cones, tuff (compacted ash) cones and all lengths and widths of “lava tubes” capture our attention. As we get higher, we seem to have been transported to the surface of the moon…Yes, this splendid sunny morning we are not on earth, we are walking on the moon, on a piece of moon, magically brought to the remotest corner of our planet, on the Enchanted Galapagos Islands of Ecuador…..

As we reach the summit, we find, in front of our eyes, the most popular of Galapagos postcards… but this one is not on paper, this is the real thing… the yellowish crescent-shaped beach in the center of the island and, to the southwestern end, the superbly majestic Pinnacle Rock… To the east, the entire island is littered with all kinds of volcanic cones, a true moonscape… It is all like a dream come true, we cheer and shout, the cameras click frantically, capturing the spectacular sight, one never to be forgotten, one that symbolizes the uniqueness of these fantastic islands….. And we are just half way through the morning… there is more to come….

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