Isabela is the largest island in the Galápagos archipelago. It has 5 active volcanoes, unique species and an almost untouched wildlife that makes it one of The best well preserved World Heritage Sites. Each one of it’s islanders is committed to environmental conservancy while keeping the door open for visitors willing to discover a successful way for sustainable and rural tourism.
In the main cities within the National Park you’ll find many certified guides who will introduce you to the particular features of this marvelous land of evolution. Natali Constante is our naturalist guide assigned for the adventure today. Are you ready to join us?
The streets full of sand, tall palm trees waving to the sea breeze, the sound of the low tide waves: in few words, peace and tranquility makes the true Isabela spirit, says proudly our guide.
There are several sites to visit on the island and Natali will lead us to her personal top.
She starts by mentioning the Wetland Complex. A group of natural pools and mangroves, recognized as a Ramsar Site since 2002, for it has 90% of endemic sub-species of flamingos and other important species key for its biological equilibrium.
As part of the 4.5 miles route you’ll see: Cerro Orchilla, El Estero, La Poza Escondida, Poza Redonda, El Túnel del Estero, La Playa del Amor, La Playita, Mirador de Los Tunos and Pozas Verdes. A tour that takes around 4 hours. Remember to keep hydrated.
Land turtles, marine iguanas, sea lions and other species will surely surprise you every now and then on the way. Keep always a 2 meters distance from all wildlife and remember to capture the moment without the flash on.
El Estero, which is also part of the Wetland Complex tour, is one of Natali’s favorite stops. Here tourists can cross a path that also happens to be the place where all four mangrove species of the Galapagos islands grow.
The salty water resistant plants have formed many majestic natural arches along the way making an spectacular welcoming entrance for visitors. But the magic actually takes places underwater. Sometimes it is even possible to swim with penguins, sea turtles and sea lions playing around. A true delight of color and life!
Another impressive land in Isabela is the Sierra Negra Volcano. Hikers will discover one of the largest cauldrons in the world among a other worldly land with a display of all kinds of volcanic rocks and formations such as cones, tubes, splashes, fumaroles and sulfur deposits. A glimpse into our prehistoric beginnings on this natural classroom for evolution enthusiasts and geologists.
It can be easily reached out by car, after a 40-minute ride from Puerto Villamil and on the way you’ll witness a remarkable change on the vegetation as the road goes up to the highlands. The El Cura outpost is the starting point to access two visiting sites: The sulfur mines, with active geisers and large sulfur deposits, and Chico Volcano a viewpoint of the northern part of Isabela and the distant Fernandina Island.
This is a land of constant changes and so the island added a new natural feature to the list the past 2018, when an eruption made an spectacular 360° viewpoint of the interior of the Sierra Negra Volcano cauldron arose.
As we move forward we seem to go back in time as we reach a sort of Wailing Wall historical site. Between 1946 and 1959 there was a penal colony set on the island. A huge wall was commanded by the guards without any other purpose than keeping them exhausted under the equatorial sun.
Natali makes a pause and tells us that at that time her grandfather, Antonio Constante writer of the book Basalt: Stage of Terror and Tears on Isabela Island, was the guard of that colony and tried to help inmates despite the martial regime implemented. Many stories and tears are locked under this stones.
Today, this historical tourist attraction is known as «The Wall of Tears.» It was built of heavy, pointy lava rocks, without the use of any machinery. It is an approximately 16.5 feet high and 10 feet wide wall that stands for 100 meters long.
Natali Constante closes her story highlighting that the population of Isabela, about 3000 islanders, are welcoming free people. Thus, this destination becomes a magical paradise that offers authentic experiences.
We will travel again soon, for now let’s plan our tours to this wonderful site.
Check the Galapagos Tourist Guide – Isabela