On our last full day in the Galapagos Islands, we hiked to the Sierra Negra Volcano in damp and foggy weather. It was raining on the drive there but thankfully cleared up when we arrived at the trailhead. Unfortunately, the mud left behind was not so much fun to walk through.
The Sierra Negra is one of five volcanoes on Isabela Island and is considered the second largest volcanic caldera in the world (Yellowstone is the first). There are seven active Galapagos volcanoes, and this one is one of the most active erupting every 3-6 years (the last eruption in 2005). It is a shield volcano, which is generally large and flat and resembles a warrior’s shield laying on the ground. There is no big eruption, just lots of gas and ash with a steady flow. Kinda anticlimactic if you as me.
There are over 90 species of ferns.
At the top where people had to leave their horses. Up until this point, instead of hiking, you can take a horse to the top.
The candelabra cactus (jasminocereus thouarsii), a native to the Galapagos, grows up to 5 meters (16.4 ft) tall at the pace of 1 meter every 100 years. This one was quite ancient standing at 4 ish meters (13 ft) tall.
You could feel the heat if you put your hand in (who could resist):
The volcano itself didn’t make for the best photos. It was so foggy that day that we only caught a short glimpse right before the fog rolled over again. We did hear crazy stories though. It’s 8-10 celcius hotter on the crater and the magma is only 2 km below. Apparently there were people hallucinating due to dehydration that jumped into a pool of lava thinking it was water.
Here it is on a day that is not as cloudy via:
Overall, this was not one of my favorite excursions, but I did get to photograph some unique plant life (super exciting, I know!)
TIPS FOR HIKING TO THE SIERRA NEGRA VOLCANO ON ISABELA ISLAND:
- 1-2 hours of a strenuous hike to the world’s second largest volcanic crater. It actually was not as bad as they made it seem. There was a gradual incline. We started at 8, we were at the top by 10:45, and took a taxi to lunch around 12:30. In between, we took plenty of breaks for photos.
- Transportation to the trailhead in the highlands is approximately 45 mins.
- Bring hiking shoes (my fave now!)with socks, water (platypus bottles are one sale now!), hat, sunscreen, rain jacket (we love patagonia’s), and a snack (our faves) to enjoy at the top.
- The trails can either be slipper or very dusty. We went on a wet and slippery day.
- We stopped and headed back because I was more interested in looking for blue footed boobies, but if you are into geology and if weather permits, you can continue 1-2 hours to volcan chico and enjoy the lava fields, fumaroles and the view of the northern volcanoes of Isabela and Fernandina.
- Lunch is included on this excursion at Campo Duro, a quaint highlands farm with giant tortoises.