Galapagos Islands: Sierra Niegra and Volcan Chico


Once again I am writing from my favourite hammock, and just like yesterday I am pretty pooped after a full day of hiking – this time up into the Sierra Negra volcano. In total we covered about 16km on terrain that varied from thick sticky mud, broken lava rocks, hills, and everything in between. The visibility of the Sierra Niegra volcano – apparently the 2nd largest volcano crater in the world – was rather limited as we were walking in clouds. Our full body raingear – waterproof shoes, pants and jackets – came in very handy. Thanks to our wonderful friends Ian, Katie, Ryan and Tati for sending us off with some appropriate clothing. We returned absolutely covered in mud, but within a few minutes of rinsing, our stuff was all squeaky clean.

Fortunately, as we kept walking towards the north, to Volcan Chico, the clouds cleared up and we were able to appreciate the fantastic views of all the lava formations. The broken lava rock appeared in a variety of colours – yellow, red, green – it almost looked like ground up Fruit Loops cereal. Some of the lava from the last major eruption cooled into what can only be described as frozen waves – very impressive. In general the landscape was really unique – we felt like we were on the moon. We also got to stick our hands into a couple of heat vents – small cracks in the ground which excreted a hot gas – like putting your hand into a very hot sauna. The smell of sulphur was also memorable.

Alas, we saw no smoke come out of the volcano, nor any flowing lava. Nick, an Aussie physiotherapist who was also on our trek, suggested we head to Hawaii to see more volcanic activity. We’re actually meeting up with Nick and his partner, Anthea (a teacher turned flight attendant from Perth), for dinner in town tonight. They are convinced they have found the best place for a $4 dinner on the island. Naturally, we are interested to try it. However, since there are maybe a total of 6 or 7 places to get food here, there is a good chance we had already eaten there. Nick and Anthea are heading to San Cristobal tomorrow morning, while we hope to get out there in a couple of days. Good chance we will bump into them in a few days. Although the islands are fairly large – Isabela being the largest – the majority of people, restaurants, and accommodations are all within a few blocks of each other. Some days we see the same people over and over again.

I know that in a week or so we have to head back to the hussle and bussle (and pollution and altitude) of mainland Ecuador. While I am excited about all the things we plan on seeing there, I think I will miss the uber-relaxed feel of the Galapagos islands. On the other hand, Marina and I have both realized that despite our need for space, tranquility, solitude, etc. we would not be able to live in a place as isolated as this. It is certainly a great place to unwind and slow down, but after a while one can easily get stir crazy. Maybe if I had an easily accessible internet connection I could last a bit longer. Without it, I’m in trouble.

Off to dinner we go.


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