We have had a fabulous few days on Isla Isabela. The weather has been remarkably cold and wet but that has failed to detract from the experience. On the way there we tested our double genoa setup in preparation for the long downwind passage to the Marquesas. It worked really well and we are hoping it will knock a few days off our passage time. I will do a tech post about that one later.
We spent one day going up the still active (last eruption 2018....) Volcano, Sierra Negra, using a combination of truck, horses and boots. It was fascinating to see the 15km wide caldera full of recent black lava and to crunch over the fresh lava pebbles. They are incredibly light and some are beautiful, with coloration from pyrites. The sky cleared on the leeward side of the volcano and the views north towards the equator were spectacular, if hard to photograph.
The next day we went for a long walk along the coast. We thought about renting bikes but, after a day on horseback, the idea was unappealing.... The highlight of this one was Janaki spotting a pair of giant tortoises in the bush. We were planning to go and see them on a tortoise 'sanctuary' but this was much better.
The next day was amazing. We went on an organized tour to Los Túneles. This is an area on the coast where the lava had hit the sea and the crust had hardened while the molten lava continued underneath forming a web of lava tunnels. Over time some of the roofs had collapsed creating a remarkable landscape.
Getting there was an experience in itself. First was a 45min blast in a powerboat doing 25kts over big Pacific swells, only punctuated by a couple of stops to look at Manta Rays. By the end of that I was very glad we only do a relatively comfortable 6kts in Leela. When we 'arrived' all we could see was an apparently unbroken line of large offshore breakers between us and the calm lagoon. It did not look remotely enticing. The skipper picked a spot and waited for several minutes apparently studying the surf then suddenly gunned the motors and rode a large wave through the reef. A couple of sharp twists through exposed rocks and we were behind the reef in utterly flat water - phew....
It is hard to describe the area in words but there are several photos in the album here
. The combination of ocean, lava bridges and cacti was visually stunning. There were large green sea turtles everywhere and blue footed Boobies nesting in the rocks. Like everywhere on the Galapagos, the wildlife was completely indifferent to our presence, even the nesting birds. On the two snorkels we did we swam through lava tunnels and saw turtles, sharks, seahorses and a range of Pacific fish. The only downside for me was that the weather was kind of nasty and I got way too cold snorkeling. You cannot have everything.
Getting out of the reef made getting in look pretty benign. Again, the skipper waited for several minutes behind the reef studying the waves then suddenly gunned the 350hp motors and roared into the oncoming surf, weaving through rock outcrops. I'm not sure if we actually got airborne but it sure felt like it. I wish I had managed to get some pics but I was preoccupied with hanging on. All in all it was a memorable day.
We spent yesterday doing some final boat prep before heading to Santa Cruz for a few days before clearing out. As I write this we are on our way there at our stately 6kts. Slow but comfortable.
The Booby? She (the male was looking after the chick) very carefully stretched into this pose on one side, held it for about twenty seconds then repeated on the other side. It looked exactly like a yoga pose. She was totally Indifferent to our presence.