Today, our two groups were mixed up as some people from each group were doing the volcano hike whilst others had paid extra to go to the lava tunnels. The German family, Laura and I therefore went with some Germans from the other group and Jocelyn, our guide, up to Sierra Negra, an active volcano at the southern end of Isabela. There are a number of volcanos on the island, all active.
We first took a chiva up to the start point, passing the lava field along the way. The entire town is actually built on lava so there is black rock everywhere, even as part of the inhabitants’ gardens, which makes for quite a lunar landscape.
The view was a little hazy as we set off. It was also very hot and humid. We had been told that the hike would be 7 hours. By the time we arrived, it had been reduced to 5 and by the time we were at the crater rim, it was 4. By this stage, we had all decided that Jocelyn was managing the schedule to suit herself so that she could spend as much time as possible with her son, who was also on the trip.
The track was almost impassable along the rim and Jocelyn and her son strode ahead, checking occasionally to see if some of us, at least, were in sight.
At one point, she asked if we wanted to continue but the ‘view would be very much the same’, so she recommended that we return and have longer for snorkelling! The rest of the group, unfortunately agreed.
The crater was full of black lava and is the second largest crater in the world (after one in Tanzania, I think). We saw various finches as well as a mocking birds, but the main attraction of the hike was the view of the crater, which was very impressive.
There were other groups at the rim, but they had ascended on an easier path on which we then returned.
The walk back took about an hour and the chiva appeared not long after we arrived and transported us to lunch. This was at a very nice restaurant where we had a buffet style lunch.
Afterwards, we made our way, once again in the chiva, to Perla Concha, which is a very tranquil bay in which we could snorkel. Jocelyn actually got in the water with us and guided us around the lagoon, where we were lucky enough to see swimming iguanas (apparently quite rare), and a penguin zoomed past some members of the group (but not me). I spent quite a lot of time, as usual, emptying my mask and snorkel of water.
The last part of the afternoon was free so we were dropped off at the beach and were warned not to go too deep as the current was extremely strong. The last couple of days have seen the strongest currents around the beaches for a very long time, which is what is making snorkelling so difficult. I had a quick dip and then lay on the beach relaxing, although the sun had almost disappeared behind the clouds.
Dinner that evening was at yet another restaurant and we once again joined with the other, larger group. This time, Laura and I made sure we walked back with the others so we didn’t get lost again!