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Galapagos Lava Lizard

Galapagos Lava Lizard

These friendly lizards will welcome you to the Galápagos

What you need to know about the Galapagos Lava Lizard

The friendly Galápagos Lava Lizard is the most common reptile found throughout the Galápagos Islands. After just a few of your shore excursions on a Galapatours cruise you’ll be very familiar with these “miniature iguanas” that can be seen basking all over the islands.

The Galápagos Lava Lizard averages around 10 inches (25cm) in length, and they can range in color from grey through to greens and browns - rarely you may find one that’s black, see if you can spot one of these on your trip! Males are usually bigger than females, and can be recognised by the crest that runs along the length of their backs.

One particularly interesting behaviour occurs between competing males defending their territories. If two face off against each other, rather than going straight in for a potentially damaging physically attack, they start doing pushups to each other! They do this to try and look bigger and stronger, hopefully putting off the challenger. Two equally matched males might start to fight using tail slaps or even bites. These push up displays often happen on man made structures like gate posts or signs - this can create some amazing photo opportunities, and your expert Galapatours guides will be sure to point out any of this fascinating behaviour when they see it.

Galápagos Lava Lizards are seen all year round and are active in the day time. They are mainly found in the lowlands, and often on the warm rocks of the shore line, darting amongst the Galápagos Marine Iguanas. Although not specifically at risk, like many of the Galápagos native species their populations can be dramatically impacted by strong El Nino and other climate events exacerbated by global warming.

Galapagos Lava Lizard: Interesting facts

Lava lizards vary in color from mottled grey through to stunning combinations like gold and black

There are 7 different species of lava lizard spread throughout the islands

Lava lizards will often change their color if they are threatened, or if the temperature suddenly changes

Lava lizards are cannibals, and quite often eat each other!

Galapagos Lava Lizard: Pictures from our travelers

Galapagos Lava Lizard
Galapagos Lava Lizard
Galapagos Lava Lizard

Spots where the Galapagos Lava Lizard can be observed

A walk on Bartholomew
A walk on Bartholomew

Bartholomew (known as Bartolomé locally) is the most popular excursion for Galápagos visitors, and its iconic scenery is the most photographed in the whole archipelago.

To start your walk on this island you will land in the small bay opposite the famous Pinnacle Rock. You then start the climb to the 375ft peak of Bartholomew. You’ll travel along a half mile trail that includes a series of wooden steps that have been built by the National Park Service to protect the ground here from erosion caused by tourists hiking to the summit.

When you arrive at the top of island the spectacular views will have made your efforts worthwhile. Your Galapatours expert guide will point out all the landmarks you will see from here - Pinnacle Rock itself, jutting skywards. The huge black lava flows of Sullivan Bay. The islands of Daphne Major and Daphne Minor.

On the way back down, you will be able to recognise the different volcanic formations evident on the island, such as tuff cones and volcanic spatter. You'll also see some remarkable examples of the Galápagos' ability to highlight the adaptation of species. For example the  bushes that all look dead are actually very much alive, with leaves covered with special grey hairs that help to reflect the harsh sun and reduce moisture loss for the plants.

Back at the beach there is excellent snorkeling, thanks to the underwater caves and rocks in the area. You will see various sharks, rays and tropical fish. You may also see Galápagos Penguins swimming with you!

Chinese Hat
Chinese Hat

Chinese Hat ("Sombrero Chino" to locals) is an islet set just a short distance off the southeastern coast of Santiago. The small channel between Chinese Hat and mainland Santiago is fairly deep yet sheltered, and the water here is a glistening turquoise.

The islet gets its name because if you approach from the north, you will see that this small volcanic cone does indeed look like the traditional bamboo or rice hat. Viewed from above on a satellite image, however, you will see that this islet is actually more of an oval shape.

There is a short hiking trail on Chinese Hat that runs along the western coast of the islet. This is a harsh landscape of volcanic rubble and lava formations, a very atmospheric reminder of the fiery origins of the Galápagos.

Along the cost of both Chinese Hat and the opposite Santiago shore you are likely to see Galápagos Sea Lions and Galápagos Penguins, either basking in the sun or seeking shade to avoid the hottest parts of the day. Overhead, you might catch a glimpse of the magnificent Galápagos Hawk.

The stand-out reason for a visit to Chinese Hat however is to snorkel in that turquoise channel. Here you can see various species of sharks, rays, and a variety of tropical fish. Not all Galápagos boats can visit, and permits are only given to a select few boats and guides. Here at Galapatours we offer itineraries on all of these specially selected boats, so if a visit to Chinese Hat is important to you, speak to one of our Galápagos experts today to help choose the perfect itinerary.

Our trips to spot the Galapagos Lava Lizard


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