Bartolome, Galapagos | The island with the most beautiful panorama
Although it is between 1,5 and 2 million years old, Bartolome is one of the youngest islands in Galapagos. With a lunar appearance and predominant shades of orange, red and green, it is considered one of the most beautiful islands in the Archipelago. It is named after Sir Bartholomew James Sullivan, a naturalist friend of Charles Darwin with whom he sailed on HMS Beagle. Bartolome is actually an extinct volcano, with a surface of 1,2 km and a maximum altitude of 114 meters. Pinnacle Rock is the main attraction, whose panorama is found printed on most souvenirs, postcards, or magnets sold in Puerto Ayora.
How to arrive
For visiting you can choose between a several day cruise around your favorite islands or a 7-8 hours trip organized by a travel agency in Puerto Ayora. The price for a one-day tour is around 350$ with transport, a guide, lunch and snorkeling equipment included.
As we were not thrilled to spend a few days on a cruise ship, we chose to visit the island through a day trip. The meeting with the group was scheduled early in the morning on the pier in Puerto Ayora. Our guide booked us a taxi in advance, so we got there just on time for taking a minibus to Itabaca Channel, where its boat was anchored.
The journey lasted almost 3 hours and the ocean was really calm. We were able to fully enjoy a great view, eat breakfast and relax in the sun. We knew that on the island it was going to be a wet landing, meaning that we needed to climb up an inflatable boat, then jump on some concrete stairs built on high lava rocks. This is the area were the waves are crashing, so we were eagerly waiting for this interesting experience. On the surroundings rocks there were so many sea lions and next to them we could even see a couple of penguins swimming.
The island is entirely made of lava rocks, almost completely devoid of vegetation. The highest area reaches 114 meters, and from there you can admire the most beautiful panorama in Galapagos. To reach the top of the island, you must climb 372 wooden stairs. They were built to prevent erosion, this being the only way of getting around the island. As you move forward, the landscape becomes more and more spectacular. Wherever you are looking it seems that you are on another planet.
Pinnacle Rock, the sharp peak characteristic to Bartolome Island, is in fact a volcanic cone formed after the eruption of an underwater volcano over 1 million years ago. At its base lives a colony of Galapagos penguins.
Tips & Tricks
Most Galapagos penguins can be found on the western side of the Archipelago, on Isabela and Fernandina Islands. On Santiago, Bartolome and Floreana Islands are living a few smaller colonies.
Tips & Tricks
Bartolome is one of the most beautiful islands for snorkeling.
Most sightseeing tours also include diving in one of the secluded parts of the island. Accompanied by a guide, you will swim among corals that provide a home for hundreds of tropical fish. Bartolome Island is one of the few islands in the Archipelago where you can snorkel with Galapagos penguins. If you are lucky you can also find sea turtles, sea lions or sharks.
How to prepare for a tour on Bartolome Island
Because the tour we booked included visiting the island and snorkeling in the ocean, we had to be prepared for both activities. First of all, we considered necessary two medium-sized waterproof backpacks. In them, we took our water bottle, underwater camera, binoculars, sunglasses, SPF100 sunscreen, towels, wide-brimmed hats, snorkeling equipment and trekking clothes.
Since we knew that the organizers will provide us snorkeling equipment consisting of a separate snorkel and diving goggles, we decided to bring with us a full face mask. It helped us breathe in the water easier, so we could enjoy even more the experience. Besides this, we also bought a 2mm thick neoprene wetsuit and snorkeling shoes to protect us from coral, shells, or rocks.