Isabela Island – Introduction and Sierra Negra

June 9, 2010 § 3 Comments

Puerto Villamil

Puerto Villamil Isla Isabela

Located on the far west is the island of Isabela the largest of the Galapagos Islands and is home to the most diverse wildlife.  On the island’s southeastern edge is the sleep beach town of Puerto Villamil.  For years this was a secret destination known only to people insiders and sailboats crossing the Pacific.

Easily the most beautiful town in the Galapagos, Villamil appears more like what you might imagine in a dream than in reality – with miles of powdery white sand beaches, the prongs of coconut palms swaying in the breeze and the endless blue seas as far as the eye can see.  Yet it is so much more than your classic beach destination it is in Galapagos Islands and there are blue-footed boobies, nazca boobies, brown pelicans, sea lions, marine iguanas, pink flamingos and Galapagos Penguins and that’s all right from town.

Isabela is one of the two islands closest to the Galapagos Hot Spot and several of the volcanoes on the island are still active.  One of the most popular excursions is to visit the Sierra Negra Volcano home of the 2nd largest caldera in the world, where the last eruption was in October 2005.

Visiting Sierra Negra begins with a drive up the mountain passing the farm town of Santo Tomas.  Arriving near the top of the island you’ll leave your vehicles behind and either set out by foot or by Spanish style horses for the crater.  For American’s Spanish horses can be a bit unnerving they are considerably smaller and more spirited then the typical vacation trail horse.

Horseback to Sierra Negra

Traveling to Sierra Negra via Horses

Typically you’ll travel up the volcano under cloud cover to reach the craters’s rim and be treated to a spectacular 360-degree view of Isabela and the surrounding islands.  You’re guide will explain to you about the origins of the Galapagos how unlike Hollywood movies the Galapagos Volcanoes don’t spew lava from one point enveloping everything in their way.  They have several points where lava is tossed back and forth and though much of the crater rim is stark and barren there are islands of green known as Kipakuas where the plants survived unscathed from the eruption.

Come back  tomorrow for … The Isabela Tortoise Breeding Center and Flamingo Lagoons

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