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Also known as San Salvador or James, Santiago is the fourth largest island at 585 km2. This island is especially interesting for people interested in geology, volcanology, or succession. Since it provides zero shade and the black rocks can produce an uncomfortable amount of heat, try to visit this island early in the morning or close to dusk.

The most popular visitor site is Puerto Egas, on the west side of Santiago, where a wet landing places you on a flat, black sandy beach from which you can snorkel or play a game of soccer.

Further along the trail, lava formations eroded to form pools, caves, and inlets provide the home to coastal seabirds and a variety of interesting inter-tidal organisms. This is an excellent place to see colonies of Sally Lightfoot crabs scuttling about and marine iguanas munching on algae. You should not be surprised to find a sea lion or fur sea lion nestled in one of the inlets or playing along the coast.


Near the end of the coastal trail is Darwin’s toilet, a rock formation that causes a vertical chute of water to rise when the waves collide with the rock face. You may also see Galapagos swallows, herons, and the occasional lava lizard hiding under the rocks.



On the east coast of Santiago, across the bay from Bartolomé, is Sullivan Bay. Here, a century-old volcanic eruption has left the island landscape barren. You can see the path of lava flow as well as the various igneous rock structures formed from varying rates of flow, temperature of formation, and pressure. Here you can see examples of three lava types—pahoehoe (braided), aa (jagged and painful), and schrict (ropy). You can also find hornitos, little ovens, formed when bubbles escape from hot lava to form mini-volcanoes. Witness the regeneration of the island in the form of pioneer plants—Brachycereus cactus and Mollugo carpetweed—and colonizers—grasshoppers, lizards, and snakes.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Galápagos Island Visitor Sites: Genovesa, San Cristóbal, Isabela, Central Island Visitors Sites, Fernandina, Southern Island Visitor Sites, Bartolomé, Mosquera Islet, North Seymour and Daphne Major and Minor.

04 Jun 2007

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