Isabela my Belle...


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South America » Ecuador » Galápagos » Isabela Island
April 22nd 2016
Published: June 20th 2016
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With a great introduction to the Galapagos on San Cristobal (and a stopover on Santa Cruz) we arrived at our second destination: Isabela. Largest of the Islands, and also the least populated (of the ones with folks on them at any rate) we approached this stop as a chance to chill out in between sightseeing adventures...decided on spending a bit more as well to be on the beach on a recommendation, and couldn't have worked out better...

Arrived late afternoon to Puerto Villamil, and after a short taxi ride into town we settled into our digs for the next few days, Casa Los Delfines...great place, the woman who runs it is really sweet, we had access to a large balcony on the third floor overlooking the beach/ocean and the included breakfasts were delicious...

Once settled we headed out to get our bearings and look into a tour for the following day...we had three full days here so decided on doing two guided tours and then leave a day to ourselves to poke around at our leisure, perfect! We knew we had picked the perfect place for some relaxin'; a small town with nary a paved road in sight (aside from the strip coming in from the port and an inner "highway" the rest were dirt roads), plenty of restaurants/patios all within a short walk, fantastic beach and a delightfully low number of fellow tourists...wicked...

Arranged a tour to hike the Sierra Negra volcano, and in the morning it was into the shuttle with about fifteen other folks and off into the highlands...ahead of us lay an approximately 14 km round-trip hike along the crater's edge, although it was cloudy and we couldn't really see a whole lot (which in actuality was a bit of a blessing, have I mentioned how hot it is in Ecuador/Galapagos? We found the sun to be stinging, and in the interior it would have been scorching if not for the clouds...). Walking through the clouds was pretty cool, and fortunately at the far end of the trail it cleared for about half an hour and we were able to see the whole caldera before the clouds rolled back in, perfect really...a long walk though, ended up back in town by about 1pm and we were pretty knackered...

Spent the rest of our day wandering around town, this happened to be our 5th wedding anniversary so had to relax a little and enjoy a few cocktails! Dinner that night was at the Booby Trap, a wonderful family-run establishment on the western edge of town...came highly recommended online, and also mentioned reservations preferred so we stopped in late afternoon to sort things out...turns our reservations are better if you are having one of the set meals, which we opted for and were given the green light to come back at 7...fantastic meal: a table with fresh linens was waiting for us, and the real reason for the reservation is so the proprietor Jim can have an amazing fresh salad built and ready to go when you arrive, awesome! The meal was excellent, highly recommend this place if you are in the neighbourhood...finished up the evening on the balcony of our hotel with a bottle of wine, some tunes and some "authentic" *cough cough* Cuban cigars we had picked up in a market in Quito...brilliant...

Day 2 was to be a tour-free day, and as it turns out there is plenty to do here under your own steam...the lovely K wanted to check out the boardwalks in behind the Iguana Crossing hotel to search out some Pink Flamingos so we started there in the morning...great stroll, saw all sorts of Flamingos wading in the marshes, and this path also leads up to the Tortoise Breeding Centre which was excellent...we had been to the Charles Darwin centre on Santa Cruz during our previous stopover, and to be honest I preferred this place for checking out the tortoises (to be fair some of the CD centre was under renovation, the baby tortoises weren't there because of it). Free entry, they had the tortoises separated by size in these massive pens, and with hardly anyone there it was a nice, peaceful visit watching the tortoises lumbering around going about their daily routines...the large ones were the coolest, but it was neat seeing some of the mid-size guys and finally the smaller one-year-olds I believe to get a great perspective on the workings of the centre...

After lunch we grabbed our snorkeling gear and made the trek back to the port, there is a small bay accessible by a boardwalk called Concha de Perla...great swimming spot, bunch of locals and tourists taking advantage of the beautiful day either chilling out on the narrow deck or paddling around the bay...not a lot to see snorkeling but still an enjoyable swim...did manage to see a marine iguana swimming along the far shore which was really cool...spent the rest of the day enjoying the beach and sorting out a snorkeling tour for the following day...

Our third and final full day dawned and this was to be the tour I was looking forward to the most: snorkeling at Los Tuneles! Reputed to be a top spot to see all sorts of marine and bird species, we boarded the boat with about a dozen other folks and off we went...after about 30 minutes we arrived at our first spot near Tuneles, where we got off the boat and caught our first glimpses of the famous Blue Footed Booby (many jokes were and are still being made as you can imagine...yes I'm really still only 14...). Beautiful birds, and once again as most animals in the Galapagos don't see humans as a threat we were able to get pretty close to them, awesome...

Hung out there for a bit and then it was back in the boat and off to the snorkeling site, couldn't wait to get in...water was much warmer here as compared to San Cristobal, so while some folks opted for wet suits I didn't, and no issues with the cold...

Los Tuneles did not disappoint; saw all sorts of creatures like white tipped sharks (some sleeping!), a large Marmalade Ray, some smaller rays, lots of turtles (some were HUGE) and even a Sea Horse...we were in the water for about two hours and I enjoyed every minute of it, highly recommend this tour...even threw in a penguin sighting on our way out for good measure, fantastic!

Sadly we had to leave the next day, and while we had originally planned on taking the painfully early 6am boat back to Santa Cruz we said "screw that" and decided to just chill out in the morning and take the 3pm boat instead...the casa let us check out late so it all worked out; a final swim in the ocean and chill at the beach followed by a relaxed lunch, turned out to be the right call...

Loved this place; plenty of tours to do, lots of things to do on your own, beautiful beach and just an overall relaxed vibe, couldn't have asked for more...
GhostsGhostsGhosts

...walking through the clouds on Sierra Negra...

(Some photos copyright of Karen C., denoted by (KC)...used with kind permission...some photos from Pahoehoe Tours, denoted by PT)


Additional photos below
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Lovely K...Lovely K...
Lovely K...

...at the edge of the caldera...in the clouds..
CalderaCaldera
Caldera

...the clouds moved out and was able to snap a few quick pics...
Lava FlowsLava Flows
Lava Flows

...at Sierra Negra...
The Moon?The Moon?
The Moon?

Fantastic lava formations as seen from Sierra Negra...
SunbathingSunbathing
Sunbathing

...told you I couldn't get enough of these guys...haha...
SunsetSunset
Sunset

...along the beach in Puerto Villamil...beautiful...
On the way...On the way...
On the way...

...to the Tortoise Breeding Centre...
Tortoises...Tortoises...
Tortoises...

...these are the mid-size guys...
Tortoises IITortoises II
Tortoises II

...and the larger ones...


21st June 2016
Blue Footed Booby

Galapagos
Very cool
21st June 2016
Blue Footed Booby

It truly is...
...no other place like it I imagine...
22nd June 2016

Bella Isabela
What an amazing place, and fabulous experience! I really want to see a blue footed booby :)
22nd June 2016

Bella Isabela
It truly was, magical in some ways...definitely go, absolutely worth it...

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