Sierra Negra, Volcan Chico, & Tintoreras

This morning we piled into a van with John and Cara plus Stormy and Avery, who joined us for the rest of our trip.  The Georgians parted ways with us last night and will finish their trip with 2 days in Mindo instead of staying in the Galapagos.  Our destination for the day was the Sierra Negra and Volcan Chico volcanos, which are both part of the same mountain.  We would hike up to the caldera of Sierra Negra, then around and over the other side through lava fields to Volcan Chico where we had a beautiful view overlooking the ocean.

It was drizzly at the trailhead and remained that way all the way up.  Unfortunately that meant we couldn’t see the large caldera (7.2 x 9.3 km), because it was completely filled with fog but it kept the trail damp which (we were told) can get extremely dusty when it is dry.

The hike up was very gradual on a smooth dirt path, and we had some great conversations as a group, which made up for the lack of a view down into the Sierra Negra caldera.

Fortunately the visibility improved on the other side of the caldera.

Hiking through the lava fields to Volcan Chico felt like we were on another planet, and the gaping holes left where the lava spewed out were very impressive (or scary?).

Note the clear delineation between the red and black lava rocks.

We learned that the Hawaiians have classified lava into two primary types… Pahoehoe (pronounced ‘paw-hoey-hoey”) and Aa (pronounced “ah-ah”). The easiest way to tell the difference is to imagine yourself walking over it barefoot. If you think it would hurt, then it is most likely Aa, but if it is nice and smooth and therefore probably wouldn’t hurt, it is most likely Pahoehoe.

picture by Stormy
picture by Stormy

Once we made it back out of the lava fields, we sampled the guava fruit from the trailside bushes, as an appetizer to our bag lunches.  They were  SOO good!  Shortly afterward, we were back up at the caldera and the weather remained the same again between there and the trailhead.

We were all pretty tired from the morning hike, but only had time for a brief rest at the hotel before we reconvened for a trip back to the docks where we picked up kayaks.

We paddled around the bay and saw our first Galapagos penguins along with the other typical marine life, then hopped in for another quick snorkel session.  It wasn’t as good as the lava tunnels, but still fun.  Once again the water was cold (although not quite as bad as at Kicker Rock!), but that’s our fault for getting married in November!

Avery and Cara
Galapagos Penguin!

On the way back to the dock we came across some fisherman cleaning up their catch before getting off the boat for the day.  Several sharks and rays swarmed to devour the scraps thrown in the water, which made for quite a (surprising) show!

Maritza (pic by Stormy)
awesome picture by Stormy

To finish another exciting day, we enjoyed a great sunset from our balcony and then hit the town for dinner and ice cream. 🙂

Note: We found another blog that went into more detail regarding the Volcan Chico section of the hike we did.  Check it out if you’re interested in learning more!