Last minute we decided that we wanted to hike volcán Sierra Negra the day before leaving Isabela. Sierra Negra is a large shield volcano at the South eastern end of Isabela Island that rises to an altitude of 1124 meters.
Sierra Negra means the black mountain
We only had three full days on Isabela and our program was packed, so we decided to go on a organized tour, which included transport to the volcano, a lunch box and a English speaking guide. You can DIY (do it yourself, but a lot of agencies will tell you, that you have to go on a tour with a guide), but then you have to find a way to get to the volcano and back (about 45 minutes each way). We used the same agency PAHOEHOE, but this time there was to many tourists, or at least the guide had a hard time handling all the tourists. We had all day, but a lot of the other tourist had to catch a boat in the afternoon back to Santa Cruz. Everything takes longer with a big group, and the guide was stressed out.
So we pretty much walked in a big line of people
We tried to get the best out of the trip anyway, while the guide was trying to keep an eye out for everybody and telling us what to do and what not to do – it was tiring. At the top we were free to walk around, so we tried to get a few good photos. We did love the volcanic landscape, and the view was amazing.
On the top we walked on lava pumice (hardened lava), which was at first! It is almost like walking in very loose and light gravel. The Lava pumice is very light, due to all the air pockets created from the gases during the eruption.
Have a look… can you see the face of a grumpy old man in the lava stone in the left picture?
The walk to volcán Sierra Negra is 8 km, but you only climb 200 meters in elevation, which makes it an easy walk. On the way to the top we walked a long the crater ridge. The volcano has the largest crater of all of the Galapagos volcanoes, with dimensions of 7.2 x 9.3 km, with the long axis being south west to north east. The crater is also the shallowest of the Isabela volcanoes at only 100 meters.
Panoramic pictures of the crater
The last eruption was in October 2005. In the picture the darkest path of lava in the crater are from the latest eruption
It was time to leave Isabela. Transportation between the islands is mainly by boat (or smaller airplanes). The boats leave in the morning and in the afternoon. The distance between the islands is 80-90 km and the trip takes about 2 hours this time of the year, because the sea is rough. We arrived on Isabela from Santa Cruz by boat. “YES” the boat ride was rough, and I as loaded up on one of my seasickness pills. When we finally came to our hotel on Isabela, we could check in early and slept for two hours. To go by boat from Isabela to San Christobal we would have to take one boat in the morning from Isabela to Santa Cruz, and in the afternoon you take a second boat from Santa Cruz to San Christobal. Because of my seasickness a day like that on the ocean, would make me sick all day. Even when I take the seasickness pills I feel sick, it just prevents me from throwing up.
Instead we decided to take a small airplane from Isabela to San Christobal. The night before flying to San Christobal, there was a Tsunami warning. Everybody had to leave their hotels and homes. Everybody met at a meeting point, and all the vehicles in town started to drive people to higher lands away from the cost.
We were a wake for 3 hours during the night. In was a huge earthquake in Mexico, north of Galapagos, that caused the Tsunami warning. The Tsunami that hit Baltra Island was 0,5 meters high, but you never know how big the wave will be, and when you can se the wave it is to late. We never made it away from the evacuation point to the highlands, and the warning was called of at 4 am. The next morning we were tired, we got up had breakfast, had a nap, checked out, had lunch and walked to Isabela Airport.
Not the busiest airport in the world – at least we didn’t have to stand in line
It was a great decision! The plane ride was only 30-40 minutes and smooth. I didn’t even had to take a pill, and I felt great all day. In total we just had a lot more energy when we arrived to San Christobal. We didn’t have clear sky, but enjoyed the flight anyway .
Arriving at San Christobal island