2019 Day 86: Isabela Island

Saturday, June 22nd, 2019.

Day 07 of Galapagos – West, Central and East islands on board of the Estrella del Mar by G-Adventures

Todays plan:

“Early landing in the small town of Puerto Villamil before beginning the hike to the Sierra Negra Volcano, which has the largest basaltic caldera in the Galápagos. Later on, visit las Tintoreras, one of the best places to see sharks and other marine wildlife. Choose to visit the wet lands or the tortoise breeding centre in the Puerto Villamil area.

Sierra Negra Volcano hike, 2 hrs
Hike to the rim of the 10km (6 mi) wide crater of the Sierra Negra volcano, which has the largest basaltic caldera in the Galápagos. Trek across the moon-like landscape of the lava fields and fumaroles, and enjoy spectacular views looking north toward Fernandina and the rest of Isabela Island. The volcano last erupted in June 2018, making it the most recent eruption of the Galápagos. This hike is 7km in total (3.5 km each way).

Las Tintoreras Excursion
Tour the “Tintoreras” to watch manta rays and whitetip reef sharks swim in the channels between the rocks. Get up close to pelicans, frigatebirds, and diving blue-footed boobies, and keep an eye out for rare Galápagos penguins, the only species found in Galápagos and north of the Equator.

Giant Tortoise Breeding center 3 hrs
Walk through the town’s wetlands to visit the Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre. With the giant tortoise on its way to extinction in the late 1950s, this program was established to protect these noble creatures.

Sail from Puerto Villamil to Santa Cruz Island

Indira’s schedule for today:

Today we will visit the main village on Isabela Island in the south at Puerto Villamil. We get early breakfast:

Weather seems to perfect for a hike:

But first we do a dry landing (on a concrete pier) on Tintereros island. The island is a flat black lava stoney peninsula in front of Puerto Villamil. A fungus was unintentionally introduced to the island so the tips of the black lava stone is now white of this fungus. There is a lot of marine iguanas breeding here, as well as a lot of sea lions and sharks in the water. Especially at Grieta de las Tintoreras, a small channel with circulating water at the cliff of the island homes a lot of sleeping sharks and sea lions, playing with the sharks.

Penguins are swimming in Puerto Villamil bay.

Then we go back to the Dinghis and get on main island.

On the Pier sea lions are playing.

We take a bus up half way to the volcano until the national park and then we walk up to the crater of volcano Santo Tomás. Indira explains the kind and periods of eruptions. We quickly occupy a view point before all the other groups go up.

After the photo stop we walk down again. The crater is huge, some kms in diameter. Around the walls it is rather green, inside it is only lava.

We take the bus, back to the pier, the dinghis to the ship and have lunch.

At 14:30 pm we go back to the island, take a bus to the turtoise breeding center of isabela. Its huge. Recently more than 100 tortoises vanished to be found on the mainland. There is huge investigations about corruption.

Of course the turtles are fucking again. Two breeding center visits, most movement seen was reproduction.

We walk to the beach from the breeding center on a wooden path, the “Centro de crianza”, above some lagoons. Some beautiful flamingos there. The population of Galapagos is estimated only 500 of them, so no wonder that there is not a massive herd of them.

Everywhere on the wooden path there are marine iguanas heating up.

And take care of the poison apple tree, and endemic and very defensive tree here.

After the walk we walk the beach back to the village.

To have a coco loco, coconut water out of the coconut with some rum. I walk for a supermarket, find one that opens at 16:00 pm. I am there but the soft drink selection is Gatorade, the beer is glass bottles and snack options are little attractive cookies … I pass.

We go back to the ship. It looks like rain and we have a long passage to Santa Cruz overnight.

Accommodation: Aboard Estrella del Mar, Galapagos island

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