Horses & Volcanoes in the Galapagos

The day started with a dinghy ride to shore, then a short walk into the small village on Isla Isabela. We met up with about 15 other yachties, and around 8AM we piled into 2 trucks that were equipped with wood benches out in the open air. The day started kind of damp with mist in the air, but we knew it wouldn't last long. The truck ride was 1 hour on a gravel road through dense vegetation which changed as we climbed to a higher elevation. At the end of our ride we were greeted by horses and some guys whom we hoped knew how to handle them. The horses looked a little skittish, but we were all anxious to jump up and try. The saddles were nothing more than iron frames with plastic tarps and vinyl for the comfort of the horse and myself.

Dave looks like a natural, maybe he missed his calling???

To our amazement the horses were quite well behave. We even managed to provoke a few of them into a trot , then a gallop. We rode the horses up the volcano for about an hour. At this point we were along the rim of the volcano and had a beautiful view of the old crater to our left. We were told that this is the second largest crater in the world and looked to be at least 10 miles in diameter.

Eventually we left the old crator and headed down hill for a short distance. By now the day was hot and dry. We were covered head to toe in red dust, we felt like real cowboys. After we tied up the horses under a big shade tree, we hiked into an area that has seen more recent volcanic activity. We went through and area that was very rocky and red in color. There were also a few cacti. This area was from an eruption in 1963. Then there was a very clear transition to a blacker area which is from an eruption in either 1978 or 1979 (I heard both and not sure which is correct) The lines separating the different activities were quite distinct. There were piles of very rough rocks and also areas that were clearly lava flows that had cooled gradually. A bit further on we found a crevice and a deep steaming whole in the rock. It was green and lush in the hole and the crevice compared to the hard sharp rock covered earth that surrounded it. The walls of both were dense with fern growth. This is an ACTIVE volcano!

A long crevice filled with steam and ferns.

A hole in the rock, also filled with steam and ferns.

After checking it all out we all had a nice picnic lunch overlooking the crater. Then we hiked back to the horses and rode back to the trucks. The ride back was even better. Both horses and riders were a bit more confident. I ended up galloping/running most of the way back. This was great fun, for both myself and the horse. So much fun I didn't realize the damage the metal frame of my makeshift saddle was causing on my back end. The drivers waiting for us to back at the trucks, declared me as "La Primera", as I was the first of the whole group to arrive back!

Stacy looks like she needs an extra hand for balance.

After the truck ride back to the village, I was in desperate need of a cool beer to help ease the extreme discomfort that was preventing me from sitting with any amount of ease on my sore arse. The rest of the group seemed to share my desire, so we ended the tour by having a few cold ones with our fellow "cowboys and cowgirls".

Two cowboys back at the stables badly in need of a cold beer and a shower!