– 15km / 4-5 hour hike (medium difficulty) to the Sierra Negra volcano and lava fields
– $35 each (includes transport, guide and packed lunch)
This is a fantastic walk to do, not too difficult, but still enough of a challenge to get a great sense of achievement when you reach the top.
We arranged the tour through our hostel, Brisas del Mar, but all the agencies offer pretty much the same itinerary. A taxi was organised to pick us up at our hostel at about 7.30am. We were driven about 30 minutes inland to the start of the walk, which had a campsite and toilets. We met the rest of our group and our guide here.
We began the walk ascending up the hill for about 45 minutes or so. Once we had made it to the top, the plateau of the volcano, it was more or less flat from then on. We soon came to be walking along the edge of an enormous 9km wide crater, looking down over the dramatic black lava rock that had set over the mouth of the volcano. This is the most active of the volcanoes in the Galápagos and the last time this volcano, the Sierra Negra, erupted was in 2005.
We continued the walk, following the footpath with plants and trees growing on either side. Occasionally we got a glimpse of the impressive view below. We stopped for lunch about 2 hours in at one of the little rest areas along the way.
The next part of our warm changed completely. We were walking across lava fields, which felt like we were on another planet. Trekking through this lunar landscape, the rock gradually changed colour. At first, the floor was almost black like ash, but then it turned to a red, purple, yellow, green, blue, signifying the different properties of metals and minerals which had been spurted out of the volcano at one time. It was truly fascinating to see how the rock had once been flowing and liquid, like a solidified river. In other areas, the lava rock had been eroded and was jagged and quite sharp. The most fascinating thing was to touch the rock in certain areas and still feel the heat of the volcano!
We got to the end point of our walk, where we sat and admired the view. It was spectacular, overlooking the east side of the island. You could see the other volcanoes and the beautiful coastline.
On our return, back the way we came, the weather changed. In the morning it had been sunny and clear. By the afternoon, the clouds had gathered and it was drizzling. We could no longer see the view below nor the crater we had passed in the morning. For this reason, the tour starts early in the morning to get up there whilst the volcanoes are still visible. I should add that the rain made the rocky path very slippery, so decent shoes are advised.
A fascinating walk to do with an impressive view at the top! A must!
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