Bartolomé Galapagos Island is one of the youngest islands with the most beautiful landscapes in the Galapagos archipelago. It is an extinct volcano with several volcanic formations with striking colors such as red, orange, green, and shiny black, very beautiful to appreciate when the sun is at its maximum splendor. It has no inhabitants, apart from the species of flora and fauna that form small colonies and is not famous for it but it is famous for its lava landscape that seems almost unreal and that makes it possible to go back over the evolution of the islands.
It is named after Charles Darwin’s best friend, the lieutenant aboard the HMS Beagle Sir James Sullivan Bartholomew.
This volcanic islet is located just off the east coast of Santiago Island. It has a total area of 1.2 km2, the view from the summit which is located at a height of 114 meters above sea level, is beautiful and that is where you get the best pictures of the islands. The hike to the summit is one of the most enjoyable activities. It is because it has volcanic formations that turn the landscape into a place very similar to the surface of the planet Mars. On the other hand, it is an exploration through evolution.
The most representative form of the island is the pinnacle, which is a triangular shaped rock that is the rest of a volcanic cone, at his feet has sand of various colors where you can see several seabirds and Galapagos penguins perched on the rocks or swimming in search of food.
Ascending the stairs that lead to the viewpoint from where there is a spectacular view of the two bays you can see interesting lava formations and cinder cones and one of the most representative landscapes of the Galapagos Islands. The hike is a fantastic experience, as it takes you through recent volcanic eruptions through a landscape reminiscent of the surface of Mars.
The summit is across the tourist attraction called La Escalera. It is not a natural formation, but literally a wooden staircase, built for the care of the soil in this sector. This trail is 795 meters long and has 372 steps. It is done in an estimated time of forty minutes. It is worth walking along this path because at the top you can admire beyond the island, the view reaches Santiago Island, the “lunar terrain” as they also call this surface and is the place from where the iconic photos of the islet and, in general, of the Galapagos Islands are taken.
In this area is where scholars and tourists can find imprinted the geological history of the world, because of the youth of the islet. But being a visually very attractive place, it is in constant risk, due to the fact that the remains of volcanic material are fragile and with the constant passage it begins to wear away until it disappears.
This is the reason why La Escalera was built, which also allows visitors to be safe and in control of the tour. It is recommended that, if you meet another group during the trip, wait a reasonable time to continue the walk, so as to avoid damaging the environment and delaying the walk.
If you want a little adventure, Bartolomé has a volcanic cone that is easy to climb and offers excellent views of the other islands.
There is one more attraction at the bottom of the steps that almost goes unmentioned, this is El Faro (The Lighthouse) built by the Navy many years ago. It is a nice place to take pictures, but from the outside, it is not allowed to enter because of its age.
Most boats stop at the spectacular and famous Pinnacle Rock. If you take a panga (small boat) ride from here along the cliffs, you can usually see the small, friendly Galapagos penguin.
This is the only type of penguin that exists north of Ecuador. Directly adjacent to Pinnacle Rock are the twin bays, the main feature of the island.
It is a favorite place for these flightless birds because here they can rest undisturbed. This is the reason why visitors are asked not to leave the hiking trails so as not to disturb the daily activities of the penguins or, because of their small size of no more than 53 centimeters, stumble upon one of them when they are resting camouflaged among the rocks.
Another species that can be found on Bartolome Island is the Galapagos hawk. It is endemic to the archipelago, therefore it is the owner of the place, first because it has been inhabiting for more than 300,000 years and because it is a bird of prey; despite that, it does not fear humans so it does not change its routine with the presence of a few.
On the other side you have the unique possibility to observe female sea turtles (depending on the season) that are waiting for the night in the water of the bay in order to lay their eggs on the beach. In addition, they are known to feed on the older or sick members of the other species such as iguanas, penguins, rodents, snakes, lava lizards and more.
The last animal species that surround this wonderful place are the tropical fish. They are actually found throughout the Galapagos Islands, but it is here where they are grouped in large numbers and there are hundreds of specimens, among which we can count the sandpaper fish, black drum, spotted cochinito, lizard fish, trumpet fish and many more.
The flora of the island is known as pioneer. It is because they were the first species to arrive and adapt to the environment it offered. Being a soil of 100% volcanic origin, the conditions are dry. The predominant plant is the lava cactus, which is small and creamy white. In the area of Las Playas, there are mangroves and the sand flower or tiquilia.
Bartolome is also recognized as one of the best snorkeling sites in Galapagos thanks to the abundance of rocks and underwater formations, so it is ideal for underwater wildlife where you can learn about the most representative underwater flora and fauna of the place. Let’s not forget the incredible opportunity to dive with playful penguins and sea lions.