Volcano Trekking in the Galapagos.

Puerto Villamil Travel Blog

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Carlos leads the way on the trail to Cerra Negra.

Hello all,

Woke up this morning for breakfast, and by 8:00am we were all packed in a van and ready to go.  The trip today involved a journey up Volcan Cerro Negro.  It started with a 45 minute ride in the van to a horse stable a decent way up he mountain.  There were eight tourists and two guides in the group, and they only had eight horses.  So one of the guides and one person took off walking.  The horses were maybe a bit under nourished but it wasn't all that bad.  My horse was pretty sturdy, as I was probably the third heaviest person in the group.  I climbed right on, although I did head a bit of razzing because I mounted from the right (some kind of equestrian faux pas?).

The trail started out as a beat up dirt road, and then we turned left onto your classic horse trail.

This is where the horses waited patiently for us to return.
  The horses went at their own pace, except for the times when the accompanying trail boss encouraged them with any number of noises.  Along on the ride were three other americans, four brits, and a spaniard.  Javier from just north of Barcelona had come over on the boat from Santa Cruz yesterday, and Jeremy and Elizabeth from Chicago had come along to the turtle breeding center.  Javier spoke spanish, french and portuguese, but very little english.  Elizabeth spoke spanish very well, and is planning a semester in Buenos Aires soon.

The horse ride was good except for the trotting that occured occasionally, which would prove to take a toll on everybody's rumps.  After about 80 minutes we had passed the two walkers and pulled into a stable at the top on Cerro Negro.

The caldera of Volcan Cerra Negra. It is 7km wide!
  The caldera was amazing.  It is over 7 kilometers wide, and is the second largest in the world.  The bottom is a lava scarred, barren landscape that looked particularly inhospitable near the point of the latest eruption.  That eruption took place two years ago, and we were told storys of that occurance by Carlos, our guide.

After some photos at the top we proceeded to walk down a trail that deteriorated from dirt, to small lava rocks, to scrambling over actual recent lava flows.  These flows were complete with some very cool lava tubes and domes, but the walk took forever.  After about an hour, we arrived at a small caldera which was belching out steam and a bit of sulphur.  The view from this point was spectacular, and we could see the entire north of Isla Isabela.

I managed a grin here, even though my tuchas was throbbing from the horse ride.
  There were three large volcanoes laid out and coming to a point far off onto the horizon.

We then walked back a short distance and had our lunch under the only large tree within sight.  There were plenty of Darwin Finches that were zipping about looking for crumbs that were falling of my jam roll.  The walk back to the horses seemed longer then the walk down, but we got there and saddled up once again.  On the ride back, the trail boss seemed to be more in a hurry.  He started out constantly encouraging the horses into a trot.  I asked Carlos if there was a reason for it, and informed him that our collective asses were killing us.  At this point I decided to not let my horse trot for the rest of the trip, lest I do some permanent damage to my posterior.

This is a pretty cool example of a small lava tube.
  After that I think he got the point.  We got back at the same time as the walkers, so it all worked out.

After getting back to the hotel, we were told to change into beach gear and to be ready for snorkelling in five minutes.  We were all tired, but eventually we were all ready to go.  We took a van down to the harbor, and got on a small boat.  It was about 3pm, and the tide seemed high and was still coming in.  There were a few sea lions cruising around, and I will always get a kick out of that.  It was a short boat ride to a park that featured a shark cove and lots of marine iguanas.  We struck out of the shark cove, and didn't see any so we moved on.

We then got to an area where sea lions are known to breed.

This little caldera/sinkhole had steam coming out of it, leading to the vegetation.
  We could hear them from quite a distance, and we barely got into the area when Carlos saw a baby with parents.  We got down low to the ground and could see them under a tree about five meters away.  Carlos warned us that the male was bound to be aggresive in defending the baby, and to be careful.  After a minute or two, the male came out squawking and bellowing as he made his way towards the water.  It startled us all a bit, but he wasn't really interested in us apparently.  A minute later there was a stirring in some trees about two meters away, and the mother came busting out.  She did not look happy, and visions of those adorable sea lion teeth chomping into my leg ran through my mind.

We all backed off, and I realized that I was the only person going towards the beach.

View of the north of Isla Isabela. There are three more volcanos on the northern peninsula.
  Visions of many nature documentaries flashed, and I thought that my being separated from the pack was not a good thing.  Still not sure of the mothers intentions, I was overjoyed to see her pass by onto the rocks and on into the water.  Whew!  The walk back was filled with conversation about our close call.  Although we were told by Carlos that she didn't seem to be coming after us specifically.  Coulda fooled me.

After getting back to the boat it was a short trip to an area of rocky shore.  Here we all jumped in for some snorkelling.  It was unspectacular, but I did see three decent size stingrays.  Also interesting were the underwater lava formations.  I had only previously snorkelled, or scuba'd on coral islands, so things were quite a bit different.

Some of the tour group navigates the treacherous footing.
  After this we headed back to the hotel, and I sprinted acros town in order to call my mother for her birthday.  I made it just as the doors were being locked at 4:56pm.  I begged in my limited spanish for her to let me make a short call, even though I have no idea how to say birthday.

I saw Javier across the street, so I joined hiw for a few beers before we went back to the hotel.  I grabbed a quick nap until there was a pounding at the door for dinner.  I would have slept right through it if Javier hadn't woke me up.  After dinner Javier, Elizabeth and I joined Carlos and his brother (whose name I can't remember) for some cervezas at a beach bar.  This place was great.  The weather was perfect, maybe 70 degrees with a nice breeze coming from the Pacific.

Awwwww.... baby sea lion.
  The beer tasted good, and I buckled in for a long night.  The music was a mix of latin of many different varieties, and some american rock.  Some would sing along in spanish, some in english.  And the beers kept coming.

We were later joined by Carlos' girlfriend, and another friend of his.  Carlos' grilfriend was a real instigator.  She would initiate toasts where draining your beer glass was mandatory, and although they were smaller, this really took a toll.  Javier was really starting to cut loose, and the bar was very busy by 11:30pm or so.  Yelling, screaming, dancing, dancing on the bar, and more drinking.  I can only estimate that we went through about 40 big beers by the time we called it a night.

Yikes! Mother sea lion appears from those bushes and wants to bite me.
  We did all of this knowing that we had to wake up at 5:00am for the boat back to Santa Cruz.  Oh Boy!

After an eight block walk through sandy streets we retired back to our respective rooms.  The aerial view of the walk would have been hilarious, as none of us could come close to maintaining a straight line.  We promise to wake each other in the morning, which helps because I'm still not sure of my alarm situation.

Later, Phil

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Carlos leads the way on the trail …
Carlos leads the way on the trail…
This is where the horses waited pa…
This is where the horses waited p…
The caldera of Volcan Cerra Negra.…
The caldera of Volcan Cerra Negra…
I managed a grin here, even though…
I managed a grin here, even thoug…
This is a pretty cool example of a…
This is a pretty cool example of …
This little caldera/sinkhole had s…
This little caldera/sinkhole had …
View of the north of Isla Isabela.…
View of the north of Isla Isabela…
Some of the tour group navigates t…
Some of the tour group navigates …
Awwwww....  baby sea lion.
Awwwww.... baby sea lion.
Yikes!  Mother sea lion appears fr…
Yikes! Mother sea lion appears f…
Puerto Villamil
photo by: Sads79