Sitting here at the Red Mangrove Thursday 6th March - we
have a companion asleep on the next couch…………
We were hoping to set sail yesterday but found quite a severe oil leak
in the gear box – we only need a little oil seal which would normally
cost a few dollars - but no spares here so we have resorted to buying a whole
kit which has been flown from the mainland for 140 US
Dollars…….oooch! If it arrives today we will fit the offending item
and hopefully be off tomorrow. Only 10 yachts left (most with problems of some
sort or another) so once again we will be bringing up the rear!
Last Sunday morning we woke at 7.00am shopped and stowed, sent and
received some emails, packed off the laundry and packed up our bags for our
trip to Isla Isabela. We had a great chicken fajita at the Red Mangrove before
we boarded our fast boat (unfortunately named Desperados!) with around 16 other
people and enjoyed a fast passage to our destination – still three hours
though. The approach to Isla Isabela was completely different to Santa Cruz,
only three yachts at anchor and a much sleepier affair altogether. Most of the
fishing boats had seals asleep aboard.
We dropped our bags off at the hotel – a really pretty place with
a courtyard full of shrubs and flowers – before setting off to see more
tortoises (a different species to those on our island, although you would need
to be an expert to notice)
Baby tortoise eating crab apples……
and a wonderful walk at sunset along the windswept white sandy beach to
the salt flats where the pink flamingos gleamed pink in that particular soft
light you get at that time in the evening.
Flamingos at dusk……
Up at 7.00am for breakfast and departure for our day’s riding at
8.00am. Hard to explain the difference between the islands but certainly Santa Cruz has more
sophisticated restaurants and hotels and many more shops but they both enjoy
extremely green, lush countryside. We reached our horses at 9.00am –
they are not stabled but live in a huge field and are saddled up and walked to
the foot of the volcano once a day where they meet their riders.
Getting saddled up
Paul feeling safe as his legs nearly reach the
Boys on horseback……..
We had such a laugh as everyone was of a different standard and some
(not mentioning any names) couldn’t make their horses ‘ride
on’ whilst others kept walking into bushes and barbed wire fences!!!
Becky, the most experienced of all of us ended up on a mule! Anyhow we ambled
along for hours, which was marvellous, until we reached the edge of the volcano
and peered over into the crater. Not having seen a volcano from that angle
before I am not sure what I was expecting – certainly not a circumference
of 30 miles with the diameter 10 miles across! It was quite the most amazing
experience to be perched on a single track no more than eight inches wide, high
up a mountain, on a horse, looking down into a gargantuan black steaming hole!
Apparently it takes hikers four days to circumnavigate the rim…..
Rim of the crater
We alighted from our trusty steeds to give them a rest, and walked for
about an hour over molten lava from the last eruption in 1979 to look at some
smaller lava tubes and craters – the colours were incredible –
yellows, oranges and reds and purples – seemingly every colour in the
spectrum spewed up from earth’s centre……….. and the
views – just incredible!
Small lava tube……
Paul on top of the world…….
Lava swirls from 1979 (only!!)
Crater with a view
Crossing the lunar landscape………
Nearly at the top………
The walk back was a little more challenging (!) and our packed lunch
very welcome. Back on our horses for another two hours we were inwardly
begging that the torture of our sore behinds would end, inexperienced in the
saddle that we were, (especially after our day on the hard narrow enduro
Being towed home by a mule!
No sooner had we got back to ‘the ranch’ than we were
collected and taken by boat to the penguin and iguana nesting bay for a snorkel
with the sea lions. We slept very well in our pits that night – and up
at 5.30am for the 6.00am boat back……. The most amazing trip of a