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Excerpt from the Journal of Olds – Day 402-403 – Ecuador – Galapagos – Isabela

An early start the next day saw us on our way to the Charles Darwin Research centre for feeding time with their resident tortoises. Having visited the reserve in the north of the island the day before the research centre proved a disappointment for all the reasons that are probably good for its residents; you’re fenced off and unless the inmates are particularly curious your photo opportunities are dramatically reduced.

We did, however, get to see a couple of indigenous Galapagos Land Iguanas that were very different to those that were hanging around the park in Guayaquil. These chaps were bright yellow but similarly unflustered by the fuss of the passing truckloads of tourists.

Bound for another of the Galapagos Islands, we returned to our homestay and packed up for Isabela, leaving the majority of gear behind in favour of a rare chance to be relatively unburdened. After lunch we hopped on the boat and met Mark & Emma, an English couple living in Pembrokeshire who were at the start of their own round-the-world odyssey. After brief introductions the boats’ engines kicked in and all chance of communication was lost.

2 hours of uneventful seafaring later we arrived at Isabela and after saying our goodbyes to our shipmates hopped in a taxi to our pre-booked digs. We got a nice room with 2 double beds and a single bed that could obviously take more but was solely for us. The owner was a tour guide and helped us organise to do a couple of the activities available on the island in the brief time we were there. Happy that we’d sorted our time there we popped into town for a quick evening meal of mediocrity (and a particularly bad Caiparinha that put an end to my Brazilian renaissance) before rolling back for an early night.

The relentless onslaught of activity continued with another early start to hop in a truck and be carted up to the Volcan Sierra Negra and Volcan Chico for a day-hike. Relatively miserable weather was the order of the day as we scaled the relatively simple path up to the summit of the 10km wide land volcano Sierra Negra. We met David, a retired sports injury specialist from Tasmania who’d worked with all manner of stars including the women’s Pro circuit for 10 years. He was kind enough to help Fi with her still smarting ankle, tying here shoelace in a way that made a remarkable difference to her comfort on the walk.

The scattered viewpoints were predictably poor for photos thanks to a blanket grey sky and the sheer size and flatness of the crater yet it wasn’t a complete disappointment – it’s still grand enough to see. We reached a point where we were given the opportunity to sit tight for an hour and a half or hike a lava field to the Chico volcano so we chose the latter and were rewarded with stunning lava fields frozen in mid flow as they’d cooled, a wild variety of colours and shapes that could only have been better if they were still molten (though our visit would have been somewhat more dangerous had that been the case).

On our return the sun decided to make an appearance, too late for photos but in plenty of time to give us a good toasting. We munched our nominal pack lunch down quickly before setting off on the seemingly twice as long return journey. By the time we’d reached the truck the weather was back to its old self but 30 minutes later we were back in town where it was different again. After a clean-up it was out to the beach for a wander amongst the Marine Iguanas before stumbling across the sunbathing Mark and Emma and arranging a cheeky drink later that evening.

After a half-hearted attempt to find the Flamingo pool failed (and in all fairness we’d seen enough Flamingos in Bolivia to last a lifetime) we dropped our gear and returned to the bar to meet Mark and Emma. Happy hour ran on Fiji time aside from beer so while no glorious Margheritas were enjoyed we did see sunset over a few Pilsners. They’d enjoyed dinner the night before at a hole-in-the-wall local joint so after a few errands we all made our way down there and wolfed down some quality local grub with gusto before saying our goodbyes and heading to our respective habitacions.