GringosAbroad Ecuador

GringosAbroad helps expats and travelers navigate Ecuador. When you use our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

We Hiked an Active Volcano: Sierra Negra, Galapagos Islands

Posted in: Ecuador Travel, Galapagos Islands, Our Travels

Ever thought about hiking an active volcano? Sound crazy? If someone had told me a few years ago that I would be hiking active volcanoes in Ecuador, I would have laughed and said “nope, not me!”

But that’s exactly what I did – and it was spectacular.

hike active volcano galapagos

I Hiked an Active Galapagos Volcano

While traveling the Galapagos we hiked Sierra Negra and Volcan Chico in the same day! It was a beautiful, clear day. Note: while Volcan Chico seems like it’s own volcano (as its name suggests) it’s actually considered just a fissure of some parasitic cones. It isn’t considered a volcano – just an offshoot of the much larger Sierra Negra.

The hike itself was not challenging (no steep climbing) and the group traveled at a nice speed. But it was long, so some people opted to wait while the rest of the group hiked on to Volcan Chico.

hiking volcanoes galapagos

We saw lots of interesting plants, flowers and trees. We also saw some other explorers, on horseback.

At times the trail hugged the cliff sides. There was a barrier of trees and bushes – but if you take young kids along (as we did) you’ll need to keep a close eye on them.

Spectacular Views at Sierra Negra

We hiked a path through fields and woods until we came to Sierra Negra. It has the second largest caldera in the world! It measures 7.2 km x 9.3 km.

caldera sierra negra gopro sierra negra galapagos

The view was breathtaking. It was one of those things you just have to see. Pictures can not do it justice.

The wide-angle GoPro camera captures it better than a normal DSLR, but still, it’s so much more spectacular than the pictures can capture.

It was amazing to see how huge the caldera is! And it was beautiful; the blue sky, the green treeline, and the black volcanic rock. It looked like something out of a movie or nature documentary, not something I thought I would ever see with my own eyes.

Unique Landscape of Volcan Chico

After reaching Sierra Negra, we hiked a little farther along and had lunch in the shade under a big tree, then we pressed on to Volcan Chico.

lunch spot volcan chico galapagos

Volcan Chico was like nothing I had seen before. It really looked like we were walking on the moon. Unlike Sierra Negra, you can hike across Volcan Chico, so you can actually walk on the volcanic rock! It made a tinkling sound as we walked on it, so cool!

volcan chico galapagos ecuador at volcan chico galapagos

We saw lava tubes snaking their way across the top of the landscape, and deep holes where the lava had burst through the earth.

We also held our hand at the mouth of a hot air vent! So strange to feel hot air escaping from far beneath the ground.

lava tube volcan chico galapagos

The colors of the landscape were also unique. So many shades of black, brown, gray, and burnt-orange. The sides of some of the lava vents had a rainbow pattern.

rainbow pattern volcan chico galapagos volcanic landscape volcan chico black volcanic rock volcan chico texture volcan chico galapagos

Beyond the barren landscape of the volcano we could see the ocean: the contrast was beautiful!

After a busy day of volcano hiking, we relaxed on the beach in front of the Isabela Lodge and watched this sunset.

Hiking Galapagos Volcanoes, An Amazing Travel Experience!

Seeing and hiking across those volcanoes made me think about the power and energy locked up beneath our feet.

Before that experience, I never thought I would want to be anywhere near a volcano – let alone hike across one. But I’m so glad that that I didn’t let what was an unreasonable fear, stop me!

sierra negra ecuador galapagos

If those volcanoes ever erupt again, I’ll be like “Wow, I walked across that, woot, woot!” and feel a whole lot more adventurous :). (Our guide told us that he led the last tour up the volcano before it erupted in 2005.)

(If you liked this post, please share it with your friends.)

Have you ever hiked a volcano? Do you think you ever will? Please share your thoughts by commenting on this post.

You might also enjoy:

Check out our guides:

Meet the Author

Dena Haines is co-editor of GringosAbroad - Ecuador's largest blog for expats and travelers. She is a travel blogger and content marketer. She is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Travel.

6 comments… add one
  • Gab Jun 28, 2019, 5:27 pm


    I’m going to Galapagos in July and I’m looking for a good guide to take us there. Do you have any contact from the guide? It would be really helpful!

    Thanks a lot!

  • Anne Jan 13, 2019, 11:24 am

    Thank you very much for sharing this great experience. It’s comprehensive and very interesting. My question is with 5-6 hour continuous hike, how about (provision for) bathrooms/toilets along the way? Thanks so much.

    • Bryan Haines Jan 13, 2019, 3:57 pm

      When we hiked it, it was the woods. I don’t know if anything has been added since then, but I’m doubtful. There were bathrooms at the trailhead.

  • Fabiana Dec 12, 2014, 8:50 pm

    Sounds really exciting! I hiked Pacaya volcano in Guatemala, which is also activem and loved it.

  • Eric Lutz Dec 8, 2014, 6:42 pm

    Hay Folks! I went on your incredible journey to the volcano . Like you say the camera certainly can’t do justice, but it can give one a gimps of the beauty that this earth has to offer. We are just tiny specks roaming around this planet.
    However I would be like you in the way you expressed yourself on the volcanoes in the earlier part f your young life .
    At my age I would feel more comfortable viewing a video , yes indeed. The impression I get from the surroundings of the lava that had cooled. It reminded me of cake dough that had been dumped out . Take care Eric

    • Bryan Haines Dec 8, 2014, 9:39 pm

      Yes, it does look like hardened cake dough. The volcano last erupted nine years ago. The lava was well hardened by the time we were there.

      Thanks Eric!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.