Today was our first full day in the Galapagos Islands, and it was sort of a mixed bag of good and not so good. Our plan for the day was to hike up to see the Sierra Negra volcano, which is still active, in the morning and then spend the afternoon snorkeling in Concha Perla.
We got up at 6am for breakfast, packed a box lunch, and then headed out to do our morning hike up to see the volcano. The drive to the trailhead only took us about 15-20 minutes, so it wasn’t very far.
On the way up to the trailhead, you could see the landscape and weather change as we increased elevation. The landscape became much more lush and green, and the weather became much more cloudy as it began to drizzle.
The hike itself was roughly 3km each way, and the elevation change was very gradual, so it is a hike that just about anyone can complete. However, the ground was quite wet, muddy, and slippery, so a good pair of hiking boots or sandals are recommended.
There are several viewpoints in which to view the caldera, but all except one are currently closed because of the eruption in recent years. When we did finally reach the open viewpoint, we were disappointed to discover that much of the volcano was hidden by clouds.
We sat at the viewpoint for about 30-45 minutes eating our lunch and were able to eventually get some glimpses of the bottom of the caldera. However, these moments were fleeting and offered only partial views.
Once lunch was finished, we headed back down the volcano and to our van. By this point the rain had started to come down a bit harder and the trail became increasingly muddy and slippery. Reaching the van meant warmth and relief from the rain. Luckily, we had all been prepared and brought rain gear with us for the hike. Had we not, it would have been fairly cold and miserable.
After recharging our batteries for a bit, we took a shuttle that our tour operator had arranged to Concha Pearla, which is a small bay on Isabella Island that is popular for snorkeling. We saw plenty of sea lions and Marine Iguanas resting in the sun as we walked down the boardwalk towards the dock that is used as a snorkeling launch spot.
Concha Pearla was very beautiful, but we didn’t have much luck in spotting sea lions, sea turtles, or rays while in the water. However, we did see a lot of beautiful fish. After snorkeling for about 1.5 hours, we headed to the nearby beach to grab some refreshments and to dry off in the sun. Then it was back to our hotel to get a good night’s sleep for a big day of snorkeling again tomorrow.