A new day and a new adventure in the Galapagos. To make a change from my coastal adventures, my guide and I headed inland. Taking the only road, right to the end – we began the walk walking to see the Sierra Negra volcano on Isabela Island.
It was cloudy and misty when we started, but I was assured it was often like this on the south side but it would clear up as we got round to the northern side. I wasn’t convinced, it looked like it was set for the day, but off I went anyway. Sure enough, as we reached the top and started around the edge of the volcano, the cloud started to lift. It was rather eerie watching the clouds move to reveal a very large black hole. The caldera is the second largest in the world at 9km in diameter. The volcano is still active and last erupted in 2005, what remains is black volcanic lava. It looks like lumps of broken up tarmac. It is hard to get a sense of scale when you are standing on the edge looking down 200m at this lifeless black expanse below.
You can walk around the edge for a while before dropping down the northern side to walk onto Volcan Chico. This is a totally different landscape, this is a series of smaller craters and a huge lava field. Here, you can walk over the lava to see huge lava tunnels and vent holes with steam rising from them. Volcan Chico last erupted 30 years ago, you can see very clearly where the rivers of lava flowed and then just froze in time. It is a bizarre but fascinating landscape. Reaching the end of the trail you have wonderful views back over the small craters and lava field.
Looking north on a clear day you can see both the East and West coast of the island as well as the other three volcanoes and nearby Fernandina Island. This is as far inland as you can walk on Isabela, the rest of the island is uninhabited and inaccessible, a wild and rugged landscape that is still very much alive and still growing. It is a long walk, but definitely rewarding in terms of incredible scenery, you are unlikely to get so close to in other areas of the world. Another really great day in the Galapagos, a fascinating insight as to how these islands have formed and evolved.