Santiago: Sullivan Bay by Panga

Wednesday, July 11 (Part II)

After the gorgeous sunrise that kick-started our day (post here), we had high hopes for our morning landing on Santiago Island (aka James Island).  Though it turned out to be quite different from what we’d done on the previous days of our cruise, it did not disappoint.

Beautiful and interesting altocumulus clouds.
these are the same clouds that made the sunrise so glorious this morning.

We’d stopped to explore Puerto Egas on the northwest coast of the island just two days before (first post here).  Today’s landing was at Sullivan Bay on the east coast of Santiago, and was completely different from our earlier landing on the island. 

The arrow points to our landing site at Sullivan Bay, located across from
Bartolomé, the site of our afternoon landing.
[map courtesy of the website]

Named for Sir Bartholomew James Sulivan, a life-long friend of Darwin’s and a lieutenant aboard the Beagle, the correct spelling of the bay’s name is Sulivan, with one “l.”  But everyone, including the Galápagos Conservancy website, uses the double-l version, so I’ll go with that in this post.

Glimpse of the volcanoes of Sullivan Bay from the ship.  The volcano pictured to the
left is the last active one on the island; let’s hope it behaves itself today :-)

All the dark brown areas are lava flows; some are easier to walk on than others.

Passengers from three other small ships are visiting Bartolomé, which is
situated across from Sullivan Bay; our turn will come this afternoon.
[horrible lighting in that direction, so I used a post-processing filter on this photo.]

There were two morning activities to choose from — lava rock walk and zodiac ride, or zodiac ride and short walk.  The first one was billed as being a long, hot hike covering about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) over black rocks with often uneven footing.  It wasn’t the terrain that kept us from doing this activity; it was the pace.  Getting a sense that there would be little time to stop and smell the roses, so to speak, and considering the temperature factor, we opted for the short walk.

Amongst the last in our group, we were off for our zodiac ride shortly after 8:30a.  Once again, we hugged the eroded cliffs that had such interesting lines and textures, and nooks and crannies.  Wildlife within camera distance was limited, but we saw a new-to-us bird; we’re happy with what we came away with from the ride.

From black, to brown, to yellow, to orange-red — and of course the blue of the
ocean and the sky — and a touch of green, the landscape is a kaleidoscope of colors.

Perched on a guano-painted ledge, a blue-footed booby patiently poses for us.

Boobies’ eyes are placed on either side of the bill and oriented towards the front.
This gives them binocular vision, but they sure do look funny when they look straight at us!

Having Just come out of the water after a feeding dive, this marine iguana is using its long,
sharp, recurved claws to grab onto this rock and soak in the warming rays of the sun.

The Brown Noddy Tern is a tropical bird with a worldwide distribution.  The Noddies
found in the Galápagos are an endemic subspecies.  Often unwary of predators (the
Latin name comes from the Greek and means unmindful), this bird finds safety in numbers.

From the cliffs, we headed towards the white sand beach in the distance to check out some blue-footed boobies that were diving, but they were resting on the water by the time we got there.  Instead, we enjoyed the scenery while the naturalist explained that the lava in this area is the kind known as “Aa.”  The name comes from Hawaiian and means “stony rough lava” and is indicative of the loose, broken, sharp, and spiny surface that makes it difficult to walk on.  “Aa” is right :-)

We were thinking we’d be landing at the white sand beach in the far cove, but …

… despite the beautiful scenery, this lava is not the kind we want to walk on.
A quiet afternoon on this beach would be great, though.

A couple of American Oystercatchers rest on the beach.  I wonder if they’re a pair?

The last active volcano on the island with some of that Aa lava flowing to the shoreline.
I’m told that the lava flows at Sullivan Bay are from the late 19th century.

I started this post intending it to cover our morning activity, but I have too many photos from our walk to share, so that will be in the next post.


  1. Excellent landscape shots, what a treat. Especially like the Brown Noddy, with its pointy beak and bright orange mouth. Terns are amongst the most beautiful of birds.

  2. Indian Student VisaAugust 23, 2012 at 11:05 AM

    [re-posted without link to website]
    i am loving Sunrise and Island pictures.. great post.