Isabela Island Travel

The queen of the islands, rich in biodiversity and home to five volcanoes; Isabela is perfect for a land-based Galapagos tour.

The biggest of all the Galapagos Islands, Isabela possesses a surface area larger than all the others combined. It’s also one of the most volcanically active places on earth – what with its five volcanoes including the imposing Sierra Negra – and is wonderfully rich in wildlife, densely populated with Galapagos Penguins, Pelicans, Marine Iguanas, Flightless Cormorants, Flamingos, Giant Tortoises and many other fascinating species.

Isabela was formed one million years ago as five volcanoes joined together, many of them still active today. This means that much of the land is carpeted in lava fields, though the Southern Highlands provide a lush habitat for a wealth of creatures, including the Giant Tortoise. In fact, there’s a breeding centre here especially for these treasured animals, showcasing the conservation efforts and progress of the Giant Tortoise having been under threat for so long.

Due to the layout and geology of Isabela, it is one of the best places to witness a vast spectrum of local wildlife while staying at one of the island’s fantastic lodges. The main town is Puerto Villamil, a delightfully laidback, sandy settlement surrounded by beaches and palm trees. The rest of the island is predominantly given over to nature, brimming with varied landscapes from lava fields to mangroves, forests to cliffs. There’s so much to see and do here, but some of the top highlights including hiking to Sierra Negra Volcano; exploring the islet of Las Tintoreras just offshore and its huge range of wildlife; walking over the rocky formations of Los Tuneles; and visiting the Muro de las Lagrimas for an insight into the island’s tragic past as a penal colony.

Highlights of Isabela Island:

Giant Tortoises of the Highlands

The Highlands of Isabela Island offer an intimate and personal reflection on this most natural place. As well as offering superb views, the lush green plains are best known as a favoured retreat for Giant Tortoises, while the Tortoise Breeding Centre is an informative place where you can learn about how conservationists are trying to protect this precious species.

Sierra Negra Volcano

With a crater diameter of more than 10km, the Sierra Negra has the second widest volcanic summit anywhere in the world, making for a truly spectacular sight and one well worth the walk to get there. The views of the archipelago and the volcano’s giant opening are simply not to be missed.

Las Tintoreras

This little islet is found south of Puerto Villamil and is the stomping ground for a kaleidoscope of animal species. A boat tour will get you up close to Blue-footed Boobies, Marine Iguanas, Galapagos Penguins, Sea Lions, White-tip Reef Sharks, Sea Turtles; and many more!

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