8 Fantastic Free Things to Do in the Galapagos Islands

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6. Hike Volcan Sierra Negra

Isabela Island’s five volcanoes are big attractions, with Sierra Negra the most popular one for hiking. Aside from Yellowstone, Sierra Negra is the biggest volcano with a cauldron-shaped top which is a natural feature (usually created by collapsing earth) fittingly called a caldera. Sierra Negra, (a shield volcano rupturing every three to six years) is largely flat and reminiscent of a knight’s shield laid horizontally on the ground. The volcanic eruptions aren’t film-worthy explosions blasting piping hot lava from the top but more ash and gas ejecting at a steady pace. For some, its anticlimactic.  Almost 100 fern species and the 16-foot candelabra cactus are just two of hundreds of fascinating plants growing across the volcano. Expect the hike to last around two hours and involve some strenuous exercise over a gradual but persistent incline; then prepare for some gorgeous, 360-degree island vistas.

Volcan Sierra Negra Galapagos

5. Spot Sharks at Night in Puerto Chino

Located on the southeast side of San Cristobal Island where land starts to careen northward, Puerto Chino is a small port town and home to a small and quiet beach where, with permission from national park officials, visitors can camp overnight. A bit of a trek from the main town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the long walk is still worth the effort of getting there. The beach itself is stunning though many skip the sunbathing, swimming, and snorkeling and come instead around sunset to crowd around the ship ports where sharks congregate at night. If night-time shark viewing sounds interesting, this is one of the best places to do it. The lights shining along the port for the arriving and departing ships can attract dozens of sharks to the water’s edge where you’ll get excellent views of the majestic mammals.

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