The day started bright and early when all 13 people met at the dinghy dock. We walked into town to pay up and board an open bus and rode up into the hills. The island has lots of bananas and plantains growing (though you can't find a banana in a store to buy). We progressed over very bumpy roads where you could feel the temperature drop as we got into higher elevation.
First stop was the Sierra Negra volcano. This is the second largest crater in the world (first is in Tanzania). It is 10 km (app 6 miles) across. We hiked up a muddy road to get to the crater overview. We are with two families (read: young people) and another couple. The pace was very fast and it seemed you could barely look around to see the sights trying to keep up and not trip in the mud ditches. The views (when we actually stopped so the guide could give us information) were incredible. It was much cooler up here as well. We were at around 1000 meters (3000 feet) so not really high, but certainly above the sea level we've been used to. The cloud cover over the area also kept things much cooler.
After getting a good view of Sierra Negra we then headed to Volcan Chico where we actually hiked across the lava fields. Here the climbing and walking was more challenging and the views were quite dramatic. There were cactus growing out of the rock and very large craters and lava tubes that were amazing. We climbed to a rim where we enjoyed a lunch and spectacular view of the whole island. This was around 1100 (11 am). And the sun was starting to break through the clouds. It would get hot reflecting off the lava.
We headed back the same route. The pace was much more aggressive than we would normally walk, so it was challenging, especially for Barbara. She had hurt her toe on the boat and her knees were feeling every rock twist and turn. But we survived.
On the drive down from the volcanoe trail head, we stopped at the Cueva de Sucre. This was another interesting spot and part of the National Parks of Galapagos and requires a guide. It was a short hike down a nice path to some stone steps that led to a very dark, damp cave. The folks who set up the tour forgot to tell us to bring headlamps, so luckily the guide had one spare so we shared that (though having your own light would be preferable). The cave, unfortunately, didn't have any bats but was an interesting structure with lichen growing and long strands of drippy hairlike algae. The guide had everyone shut off their lights and be quiet for awhile (a challenge with five kids along). But that was very cool to hear the sounds of the cave and just feel the darkness and drippy dampness.
Then we headed back on the bus (glad to sit down). The other couple from "Dancing Walrus" asked if we wanted to seek out a cold beer and we of course, being sociable, said YES! So we walked back towards the dinghy dock and enjoyed a cold beverage.
It was a long, tiring day. But we made it (barely). A five hour constant hike over uphill, rocky terrain made us feel every muscle and joint. But it was great to see some of the island and the second largest crater in the world.
Michael got some good pictures and as soon as the interent speed allows, we'll get some on the website.
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