Sierra Negra is an active volcano located on the south side of Isla Isabela. It has the second largest caldera in the world. The south side of the volcano is lush in vegetation and has over 100 family farms. The northern side, however, is quite the opposite -- dry with cacti growing out of lava rocks.
Volcan Chico, from my interpratation of what the guide was telling us, is the name for the northern part of Volcan Sierra Negra. This is the area where lava flows from recent eruptions reached the sea.
Our 11 mile hike began at ~8:00 a.m. on the sourthern side of Volcan Sierra Negra. It was cool, foggy, and with periods of light rain. We hiked up to the caldera and walked along the eastern ridge heading north. Upon reaching the northern side of the caldera, the conditions quickly cleared up and the temperature was much warmer. We headed down towards Volcan Chico and the terrain quickly changed to a drier landscape filled with lava rock and cacti. As we headed down the caldera we walked on lava rock ranging in age from 5000 years old to that of the most recent eruption in 2005. We saw several lava tubes, fumaroles that release hot humid air, incredible lava formations, mini volcanoes, and what many describe as a Mars-like landscape with colors ranging from red, orange, yellow, and black. As we returned to our starting point, the afternoon soon burned off the morning fog allowing us to view the caldera in its entirety.
This was truly and amazing hike.
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