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For more information on each of Galapagos Islands click on name
Baltra Island Bartolome Island Pinta Island Española Island Fernandina Island
Floreana Island Genovesa Island Isabela Island Marchena Island Darwin Island
Rabida Island Santa Cruz Island Santiago Island San Cristobal Seymour Norte
  Santa Fe Island Santa Maria Island Pinzon Island  

Santiago Island - Galapagos

Santiago Island - GalapagosSantiago Island - GalapagosAlso known as James and San Salvador the central location and numerous landing sites make Santiago a part of almost every Galapagos itinerary. A favorite island for pirates and whalers , Santiago has a long human history as well as some outstanding opportunities for wildlife viewing. Highlights of a visit include the Fur Seal grotto, Pink Flamingo lagoon as well as the chance to see Galapagos Hawks and Vermilion Fly Catchers.

Santiago Island - GalapagosOnce rich in vegetation, feral goats were released on the island in the 1880's.  The goats thrived in the lush environment eating everything in sight and their numbers grew to over 100,000. 

Their presence has severely impacted the island's flora and fauna. The National Park Service working toward eradication,  have improved the situation. Still, it is not unusual for visitors to see goats or signs of their presence.

Santiago Island - GalapagosDuring the 1920's and again in the 1960's human impact again took its toll on Santiago. Near Puerto Egas salt mining operations were attempted.  Great effort was put into extracting salt from the crater though little profit was made and the venture was abandoned.  Equipment and building were left behind some still remaining on the island today.

Visitor sites are located on both the east and west sides of the island, making multiple visits likely on longer trips. Many cruises may stop here en route to Tower or include sites in conjunction with visiting Bartolome or Sombrero Chino.

Once the home to a large population of land iguanas . When Darwin visited the islands he would describe the island

Visitor Sites

Buccaneer Cove

Panga Visit

Espumilla Beach

Land & Snorkel Site

Sullivan Bay

Swim & Snorkel Site

Puerto Egas

Land & Snorkel Site

Buccaneer Cove

Santiago Island - GalapagosSantiago Island - GalapagosLess than an hour north of Puerto Egas , Buccaneers Cove served as a safe haven for pirates , sailors and whalers during the 18th and 19th century. Anchoring in the protected bay they were able to make much needed repairs to their ships while other men went a shore to stock up on salt, tortoises , fresh water and firewood.  Several years ago ceramic jars were found at the bottom of the bay, the disregarded cargo of some mariner from years gone by.  Inside the jars were supplies of wine and marmalade.

Santiago Island - GalapagosSantiago Island - GalapagosFew boats stop at Buccaneers Cove today.  Though many cruise by at a slow speed giving visitors the opportunity to view the steep cliffs made of tuff formations and the dark reddish-purple sand beach.   This dramatic landscape is made all the more impressive by the hundreds of seabirds perched atop the cliffs.  Two of the more recognizable rock formations are known as the "Monk" and "Elephant Rock".  A large population of feral goats now frequents Buccaneers Cove and this portion of Santiago.  The National Park Service has fenced off part of the area to protect the native vegetation from the destructive eating habits of this introduced specie.

Visitor Sites

Landing:

Wet Landing

Highlights:

Spectacular Landscape

Conditions:

Most boats do not stop at this site

Notes:

Feral goats roam in this region

Spumilla Beach

Santiago Island - GalapagosSantiago Island - GalapagosA wet landing on the large coffee-colored sand beach is just north of the prized fresh water supply that once attracted pirates and whalers .

Visitors who now come to Espumilla Beach come in search of birds rather than water. A short walk inland takes visitors through a mangrove forest normally inhabited by the Common Stilt. Sea Turtles also visit these mangroves to nest. Beyond the mangroves is a brackish lagoon where flocks of Pink Flamingos and White Cheeked Pintails can be seen.

The trail makes a loop heading over a knob into a sparely forested area then back to the beach. Along the way those with a watchful eye may spot a variety of Finches or a Vermilion Fly Catcher. Once back at the beach visitors may have the chance to swim or snorkel time permitting.

Quick View

Landing:

Wet Landing

Highlights:

Pink Flamingos and Vermilion Fly Catchers

Conditions:

Approximately a 1 hour hike

Notes:

Be careful not to step on sea turtle eggs.

Puerto Egas

Santiago Island - GalapagosSantiago Island - GalapagosA visit to Puerto Egas begins with a wet landing on the dark sand beaches of James Bay. The visit begins with a walk along the rocky coast giving visitors the opportunity to view some of the Galapagos Island's best tide pools. Sponges, snails, hermit crabs, barnacles and fish including the endemic four-eyed blenny can be seen. The walk also presents visitors with a variety of shore birds, marine iguanas, sally light foot crabs and sea lions .

Santiago Island - GalapagosThere are two  interesting excursions normally visited from Puerto Egas.  The first is a short walk from the landing site brings visitors to the site of one of the Galapagos' first entrepreneur endeavors. For decades salt was extracted from a local salt crater. The industry was abandoned in the 1950's leaving behind a variety of rusted old machines and parts of buildings. The trail follows the path once used by wagon trains to the crater cone.

The steep trail is easy, but can often seem one of the hottest hikes in the islands. Feral goats prune the arid vegetation, which lines the trail. The goats feed on any leaf within reach leaving little left for the endemic island creatures. Bird lovers will be delighted with the opportunity to catch a glimpse of one of Darwin's Finches , the endemic Galapagos Hawk, or the colorful Vermillion Flycatcher.

Santiago Island - GalapagosSantiago Island - GalapagosFinally reaching the crater rim presents an incredible vista. Looking into the crater you are able to see this extinct volcano whose floor has sunken below sea level. Salt water seeps into the crater creating a small salt lake. The sun evaporates the water, leaving the salt that many have tried to mine without success.

Looking away from the crater are the older orange lava fields supporting vegetation including the Palo Santo trees and the younger desolate black lava fields.

The second excursion begins just a short distance beyond the tide pools is the fur seal grotto. Fur Seals and Sea Lions can be seen swimming in the rocky lava ringed pools. This may be the only opportunity visitors have to see and swim with fur seals.

Fur seals were once hunted to near extinction for their coats. The Galapagos Fur Seal is the smallest of the Fur Seals found in the Southern Hemisphere, now compare in numbers with the sea lions. During the day they hide from the hot equatorial sun in shelves or caves of the rocky lava cliffs. At night they feed on squid and fish avoiding the sharks, which are their natural predator.

The crystal clear water, volcanic bridges, fur seals and sea lions make this a magnificent place for swimming and snorkeling.

 

Quick View

Landing:

Wet Landing

Highlights:

Fur Seal Grotto

Conditions:

Slippery algae covered rocks

Notes:

Three different trails offer very different experiences

Sullivan Bay

Santiago Island - GalapagosIn the early 1900's the volcano on Santiago erupted, lava flowed eastward towards Bartolome . Edges of the lava field advance in tongues, hot magma raced ahead, flowing around and eventually engulfing any obstacles in its way. The extreme heat created by the flow would cause obstacles like trees to evaporate, leaving behind only an imprint of the life  which once existed.

The Sullivan Bay lava field is a variety of interesting patterns. The shapes and textures of trees, which once existed there and Hornitos caused when pockets of gas or water trapped under the lava exploded. The Sullivan Bay Lava is known a Panoehoe (Hawaiian for Rope). This thin-skinned lava's molten material cools down after an eruption causing the surface materials to buckle creating a rope like appearance. Panoehoe Lava is rare to the rest of the world, but is common to the volcanoes of Hawaii and the Galapagos Islands.

Santiago Island - GalapagosIn the nearly 100 year since the Sullivan Bay Flow only a few plants have managed to take root in this harsh environment. The low-lying Mollugo is commonly the first plant to emerge from a bare lava field. Together with the Lava Cactus (Brachycereus) found here these plants are evidence of life returning to Sullivan Bay.

The walk takes approximately an hour to an hour and a half. Returning to the shoreline black and white Oystercatchers can be seen fishing for crabs and mollusks in the tide pools.

Quick View

Landing:

Wet Landing

Highlights:

Lava Formations, Tide Pools

Conditions:

Hot and Rocky bring good shoes and extra water.

Notes:

This barren site can be very hot.
For more information on each of Galapagos Islands click on map or name
Baltra Island Bartolome Island Pinta Island Española Island Fernandina Island
Floreana Island Genovesa Island Isabela Island Marchena Island Darwin Island
Rabida Island Santa Cruz Island Santiago Island San Cristobal Seymour Norte
  Santa Fe Island Santa Maria Island Pinzon Island  

For a unique Galapagos Vacation, Galapagos Vacation Cruises &Tours proudly presents a collection of exceptional collections of cruise ships and boutique yachts for the travel packages that will make your visit to Galapagos Islands an treasured experience. Call us for your next Galapagos Vacations
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