Frozen in Time, Isabela Island (Galapagos Islands)
After a jostling, very bumpy 2.5 hour ferry ride from the bustling port of Porto Ayoro, you arrive slightly, if not completely seasick to the island of Isabela. This island, resembling a seahorse, is the largest island of the Galapagos chain but is one of the least populated; only a 1,000 people reside here.
The port city of Puerto Villemil boasts postcard perfect white sand beaches. Don’t be surprised if you find you are the only one on the beach as this is truly a sleepy little town. It’s peace is further enhanced by a lack of automobiles on it’s main drag. i.e. no horns, no loud engines, only the sounds of the waves and a few barks from the random stray dogs.
One of the best attractions on this island paradise is Volcano Chico, or small volcano. It is worth a tour to see it. You take a 45-minute car up unto a resting point on the side of the volcano then saddle up for a 1.5 hour horse ride to the volcanoes peak. After the horses, comes the really fun part as you gently walk down the side of the volcano where the lava flowed hot and heavy in late 2005. The scenery is surreal, almost martian-like. Vegetation is scarce except for the mighty cactus that speckle the arid landscape. Craggy lava rocks in a myriad of colors, black, brown, red, orange sprawl out as far as the eye can see. Taking in the vista against the deep azure sky, it takes your breath away and if you don’t snap at least 100 photos right then and there, I suspect your camera was out of memory, battery died or it broke in the hell-ascious 2.5 hour ferry jaunt.
Because Isabela is a ‘sleepy’ island, you are very much at the will of prearranged tours done by hotels. Just b/c you don’t have a lot of choices for companies to show you around, there is plenty your hotel will do for you and for very reasonable prices. I paid $100 for 2 nights accommodation, (all meals included), a flamingo excursion, a snorkeling trip, and a volcano/horseback riding trip.