On Monday we had arranged for a tour to see the volcano crater on Isla Isabela called Sierra Negra. The crater is reportedly the second largest in the world. The tour involved a rigorous hike and horseback riding. We had spoken to some other boaters who had just finished it on Sunday afternoon. They said it rained on them and they had muddy backsides from sliding down parts of the trail. Fortunately, we didn’t have the rain, and the mud had somewhat dried along the trails. You can view the GPS track of our entire trip here in Google Earth.
We got up early, because we needed to be at the hotel by 8 AM. We had to first ride our dinghy to the docks, and then walk a mile or so into town. At the hotel they laid out some food to prepare our own sandwiches. We had already made some peanut butter jelly sandwiches because our tour operator said food wasn’t part of the tour. But, we gladly made some more. Both Karen and Lara opted to rent rubber boots for the walk for $2 each. But, Jason and I managed fine with our normal hiking footwear.
We had to ride about 45 minutes on a bus to the base of the mountain. Our bus included several young people who were backpacking in South America and came to the Galapagos as a highlight to their trip. There was a mix of other ages as well. We had to hike a couple of kilometers up the side of the mountain to the lip of the crater. Karen had to slow down – I think both the boots and the altitude were bothering her. She caught her second wind at the top though.
The crater is about 7 by 9 km wide and is truly impressive to behold. We walked several more km along the edge and then got on horses to ride even more km. Then we were on another side of the mountain and were able to see the other shore of the island for the first time. The view here was stupendous! We were taken to a large shady tree to eat our lunch, then we all went on another hike to a red lava rock field (that reminded many of the surface of Mars). We took lots of photos along the way of course.
On the way back, we again rode the horses and then took a “short” route back down because we were running a bit behind schedule. Only the short route was the same path taken by the horses an was full of mud and ruts in the “trail”. So, I’m not sure we saved any time.
Along the trip, I stopped several times and took 360 panoramas. I will try to upload as many as possible before I lose Internet again. In the meantime, check out this photo gallery of the sights we saw along the way. It was an excellent tour!
View full-sized slideshow