Under a calm blue sky, sultry clouds and a seductive turquoise ocean, the dark and jagged volcanic rocks of Isabela Island lose their ominous appearance. Instead, they appear with a new purpose, providing the picturesque landscapes of the Galapagos a contrast that makes the islands seem, if possible, even more enchanting.
Although Isabela ranks as the largest island of the Galapagos archipelago, covering 58% of all land area in the archipelago, it is in fact also the youngest island. As the ragged rock formations on Isabela hint at, the island is the most volcanic of all the enchanted isles. In fact, the island came into this world through amalgamation of six volcanoes, all of them eagerly reaching for sky above. Even to this day, the volcanoes remain active, determined for Isabela to reach its full size.
Now, back before the nature of Galapagos captivated the world and the tourism boomed, what could this paragon of nature be used for? For human suffering and punishment, of course. ‘Out of sight, out of mind’, might just have been the guiding principle which led José María Velasco Ibarra, the then president of Ecuador, to open a penal colony on the island. Although the colony only lasted for an odd 10 years, it has forever been immortalised in the landmark known as the Wall of Tears. Said to emanate eerie cries from the spectres which passed away while building it, the wall stands, both in name and in appearance, like a scar in the primal beauty of the island.
Fortunately, the shroud of past grievances is only a small part of the island. Its pristine nature and alluring scenery quickly engulfs the traveller, becoming a physical example of what the term ‘enchanted’ entails. Everywhere you go, you are struck by a fascinating polarity between sooty rocks, lush green vegetation and turquoise water. Moreover, with animal life ranging from pink flamingos and green turtles to monochrome penguins and blue sharks, the island is the embodiment of how we visualise life without a human footprint.
With a very small human population, amounting to no more than 2000 people, almost exclusively located in Puerto Villamil, it means that Isabela offer miles upon miles of untouched, natural beauty. From its celeste coloured lagoons to its black and smoking volcanoes, Isabela Island might be the closest you will ever get to a Garden of Eden.
Are you interested in experiencing Isabela for yourself? Check out our trips to the Galapagos here.