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Ecuador // Galapagos // Isabela Island

The plane we took to Isabela Island was smallest one we had been on yet (until our flight over the Okavango Delta in Botswana). One woman in our group, Sheila, was actually sitting up front in the cock pit.  It was super cool, but definitely a little nerve-racking!

Isabela Island is the largest and youngest island in the Galapagos, still being formed by five active shield volcanoes.  All those volcanoes make Isabela one of the most volcanically active places on earth. After settling in to our hotel, we headed out on mountain bikes to explore the coastline.  We saw a bunch of marine iguanas, a small group of tortoises, and hiked up to a spectacular look out.  We also stopped at the Wall of Tears, a massive wall built with lava rock that dates back to when Isabela was used as a penal colony, and prisoners were forced to build the wall to keep from going stir-crazy. 

After the bike ride, we took a boat out to Tintoreras, a set of small, rocky islets, where we could go snorkeling.  The weather wasn't great and the water was very cold and choppy so we didn't stay long. We did see some Galapagos Penguins though!

The next day was the Fourth of July!  We celebrated by going on a pretty intense hike up to the rim of Sierra Negra, an active volcano which last erupted in October 2005. It wasn't intense because it was hard- it was intense because it was pouring rain pretty much the whole time and was super muddy & foggy.  Dennis and I were well equipped for the hike, but the other people in our group?  Not so much.  They were wearing those rain ponchos you can buy at Disney so you don't get soaked on Splash Mountain.  One girl had on white shorts and she definitely slipped and fell at one point and got absolutely covered in mud.  

It was fun but the rain was definitely a bummer.  We got to the rim of this massive crater and couldn't see a thing.  A little disappointing, but we still enjoyed the hike.

Our guide, Pablo, is from Isabela Island, so after we got back to our hotel and washed all the mud off we went to a beach bar that he had been raving about.  We got some coco locos:

And then we realized that we recognized two girls at the bar- they had been staying at The Secret Garden earlier in the week as well and we had hiked Cotopaxi together!  

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The next day we took a boat ride to the last island of the trip, Santa Cruz!