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For the first time visitor to the Galapagos, there is perhaps no better introduction to the wildlife abundant archipelago than the island of Isabela. Comfortably the largest of the islands, its volcanic terrain coupled with the densely vegetated highlands found in the south provides the perfect environment for its myriad of wildlife species which include the highest population of Galapagos Penguins found anywhere else in the archipelago combined. The island is also home to the largest town in the Galapagos, Puerto Villamil, where you will find comfortable accommodation providing the ideal base in which to explore the rest of the archipelago.
The island was formed from the agglutination of five volcanoes and active volcanic activity can still be observed at the northern tip of the island where pahoehoe lava still flows freely and nearby, an abandoned US army base has since been occupied by a thriving colony of Marine Iguanas and nesting Flightless Cormorants. Elizabeth Bay, which lies to the east, contains many smaller islets which can be visited relatively easily and with an abundance of marine life and clear waters, a perfect spot for snorkelling. When you are not observing the wildlife, hiking opportunities are plentiful on Isabela, or if you prefer, simply relax on one of the many gorgeous beaches or explore the sleepy town.
What wildlife will I see on Isabela?
The short answer is – plenty. Giant Tortoises, Penguins, Land & Marine Iguanas and Flightless Cormorants thrive in large populations and Blue-Footed Boobies can be spotted on rocky islets at any time of the year. Sea Lions basking on the shores and even sharks and whales can be spotted frequently from the coastline. The island is home to a huge diversity of land birds, and Galapagos Finches, Flamingos and Galapagos Hawks are not uncommon to spot.
Offering complete flexibility, the island of Isabela can be visited with comparative ease on both cruise and land itineraries and is one of the most accessible and popular islands of the Archipelago. Many will use Isabela as a base in which to island-hop during the day before returning to comfortable accommodation in the evening. Daily inter-island flights and ferries connect Isabela to Santa Cruz and San Cristobal.
Looking for more inspiration? Check out some of our Galapagos itineraries.
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