We enjoyed a quick breakfast before heading to the pier to go through baggage inspection, which was required before we could board our water taxi. Baggage check is taken seriously in the Galapagos – they make sure visitors aren’t taking anything organic from the islands and that our hiking shoes don’t have any crud that could contain invasive species on them.
Adios, Floreana …
As we headed to the pier after getting our baggage checked, it was hard to not notice the many pink iguanas. Some were lazily basking in the sun, while one was having a major bout of dominance with another.
We continued on our way to the end of the pier, where we waited for our water taxi at the Floreana pier. First, we spotted two Galapagos penguins, swimming around. Next, we noticed a young sea lion sitting on a boat, welcoming the newest group of visitors to the island. I don’t think seeing them ever gets old.
It was a relaxing two-hour charter to Isabela Island, the largest of the 15 islands that make up the Galapagos. On the way, we passed by Tortuga Island, where we saw so.many.birds. Alex named so many birds, I couldn’t keep track of them, other than the blue-footed boobies. We were so far away, it was hard to see the blue feet. Oh well. It was nice to get the down time for a couple hours.
The sea lions were in full effect as we approached Puerto Villamil, the main pier on Isabela. Naturally, they were as indifferent to us as ever – so long no one gave them a reason not to be.
Once we got through the port check-in, the two Norwegian gals who missed their connecting flight were finally able to join us.
Our group of 14 hopped into the open air truck and headed to the Campo Duro Ecological Lodge, which is located on the base of the Sierra Negra volcano. Campo Duro had lush, green vegetation everywhere, all perfectly manicured. It. Was. Beautiful.
Our large tents were already set up when we arrived, with large mattresses in them. It was definitely more on the glamping side of things.
We were given a tour of the grounds, which included two outdoor showers that were surrounded by flower-covered bushes. (They had nice indoor ones, too.) There were fruit groves everywhere, several hammocks, a couple large firepits, and a large space to eat, drink, and most importantly, charge our phones! (I know, I know.) After the treehouse experience, this was definitely a great way to “go backward” from an accommodations standpoint.
A hike to the top of Sierra Negra Volcano
There are five active volcanoes on Isabela, with Sierra Negra being the largest. It last erupted in 2005 and is expected to erupt any time. Getting to the park entrance was a very bumpy ride in our truck, but the views were stunning.
From there, we took a brisk, 30-minute hike up 4,000 meters in elevation to get to the top of the volcano and take in views of the caldera. The hike up was hot and full of sun, but once we got there – whoa.
Alex said we were incredibly lucky – usually, it’s overcast and misty, but for us, it was a beautifully clear, sunny day. The massiveness of it was pretty awesome. Thankfully, and as expected, the hike down was much easier, but still challenging, as there were sharp rocks everywhere.
Beach time and a tasty dinner
We were all pretty warm after the hike and were looking forward to some down time to lay on the beach and relax. This beach was a little farther away from the pier, but had everything we could want – cool aqua blue water, a nice breeze, hammocks, and a couple restaurants to choose from. There were quite a few waves, and we even tried to body surf, with no success.
We stayed just long enough for a lovely sunset before heading to the beachside restaurant Booby Trap for dinner.
Booby Trap had a nice sized menu of to choose from. I opted for the camaraones con salsa de ajo (shrimp with garlic sauce). Most others either got fajitas (which was more like a big taco) or pizzas. It was really tasty and the portions were shockingly big. After a very busy day, it was a quiet truck ride back to the camp; we were unanimously exhausted.