Hello! My name is Evan Kraft. I am a Entomology major who just finished my 4th year here and earlier this summer I was lucky enough to take part in the Tropical Entomology in Ecuador and the Galápagos program that UGA CAES has to offer. With it being such an amazing experience overall, I initially struggled to figure out what exactly I wanted to write about. Though after a long deliberation, I ended up decided to write about the three wonderful days we spent on the second island visited while in the Galapagos, Isabela.

The day was June 2nd, and before we could arrive at our destination, we had to leave the island we were staying at prior, San Cristobal. With a fully planned out day ahead of us, that meant waking up at 6 a.m. to check our luggage and grab our hotel breakfast at 7. Getting to the airport around 8 a.m. a few of the other students ran into some trouble after their bags were deemed to heavy for the plane. With mine passing through the inspection without any issues, I ended up in the group taking the initial flight, while the others stayed behind waiting for the second as they resolved the issues with the luggage. Compared to the plane we had initially arrived on, this plane was minuscule and riding it over the ocean was definitely nerve wracking.

Even so, the plane ride itself was great. We did have to wear ear protection due to the volume of the motors, but flying over the ocean and islands in such a small craft was a brand new sort of experience for me. Throughout the flight, we flew over these massive expanses of volcanic rock with only the occasional small patch of plant life inhabiting it, contrasting greatly against the lava rocks below. We had learned that Isabela was one of the most volcanically active places in the world, but seeing the amount of black basalt landmasses really cemented this idea into my head. I have never been to Hawaii, but I can imagine it being similar given their volcanos, and seeing areas where there had been so little volcanic activity that plants could begin growing was so surreal to me. ( I wanted to include a video, but the noise of the motors were really bad).

After landing, the first group had to wait a few minutes for the other group’s plane to land and in that time alone, many of us could feel the heat of the island. While only in the mid to high 70’s temperature wise, the lack of clouds or any plant life to provide shade left many of us glad we remembered to pack our water. After everyone had arrived, we brought our stuff back to the hotel before going to get lunch from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Once everyone had eaten their fill and rehydrated, we went to a nearby shop to get fitted for scuba equipment as later that day, we would be kayaking out to an offshore island where we could see Galapagos penguins and other sea birds.

I personally view kayaking as a fun, yet difficult challenge, and as such, salt water kayaking is the next level up from that given all the waves you have to deal with. Having had experience with kayaking before (and due to being so tall) I ended up getting stuck in a one person kayak, and while I can complain about it, it’s probably the only thing on this trip I could complain about. Seeing penguins on the rocks was something else. Like I had always seen them in zoos and stuff before, but being able to see them in the wild, doing penguin things was truly a moment of childlike happiness for me. We spent a lot of time watching them jump off the rocks into the water and when they swam on the surface, they looked just like ducks in the water. The whole area around Port Villamil was pretty much paradise to me, and getting to do snorkeling after our kayaking at the Concha de Perla was super fun. I’ll get into this more on the third part, but snorkeling the Concha de Perla & the Cabo Rosa lava tunnels were single handedly my favorite part of the entire trip and what might be my favorite college memory period.

After a long day in the water, I got to enjoy tuna tataki for dinner. We had eaten a lot of seafood upon reaching the Galapagos and I felt there was no better meal to end the day on. I then got ready for bed as we had a long day full of activities tomorrow, one of which included hiking up a volcano, but you can read all about that in part 2!